Running Time: 94 minutes
Written by: Lea Carpenter
Directed by: Peter Berg
Featuring: Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, and Ronda Rousey
James Silva: “Are you feeling calm, Alice?”
Alice Kerr: “No, not even a little bit. Are you?”
James Silva: “Me? I’m totally calm.”
Alice Kerr: “That’s because you’re mentally unstable.”
James Silva: “Thank you.”
Released this week on Blu-ray & DVD is the latest movie from director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg, it seems that they been working together forever, their collaboration began with the excellent “Lone Survivor” (2012), a true story that continued through two more films to this new movie “Mile 22” (2018), the differences between the three movies that preceded it are like night and day, unfortunately that follows through to the end result which is frankly not good at all. This is the first movie that Berg/Wahlberg have worked on together that is not a true story, which I guess was inevitable, as sooner or later there is a need not to be restrained by real life, in this case that decision was a bad one as not only is the plot ridiculous, so to is the narrative and the needless amount of violence that is put on onscreen for what it is a very short-sighted and ill conceived story. The plot as well as the characters that inhabit that plot are all paint by numbers, with so many threads between them all, that I am actually surprised this movie has a running time under two hours, not that I would want it any longer, all of the inhabitants of this movie are thoroughly irredeemable, mean spirited, short sighted as well as of course being frankly unbelieveable.
This style of movie has been done many times before, there is a main thread that is goal based, in this case getting a prisoner to an airfield, the twist (if it could be called that), is that it is located in an Asian country. The second part, I am not sure if this is the really bad part or just the bad part, is that the two main characters have personal ‘issues’ that just don not stop, apart from making them sympathetic or likeable they both come off as the worst co-workers ever. The Mark Wahlberg character is supposed to be ‘on the spectrum’ but instead of portraying him as any kind of recognisable human being, he comes across as a bad tempered hothead, which is possibly not even the right way to play that type of person. In terms of Lauren Cohan who has issues with her child, as she is divorced, and guess what she has a temper as well, which during some phone calls to her husband one wonders how she is even allowed to talk to her child at all. To be honest the rest of the performances in the movie are not much better although none are as bad as the leads, even relative newcomer Ronda Rousey plays not only a better character but is also way more sympathetic as well as understandable in the area they are operating within.
I find it completely mind boggling that a woman, Lea Carpenter, wrote this movie, as it does not contain anything I would associate with a female screenwriter, such as sympathy, empathy, humour, well researched material, a basis in reality and so much more. Coupled with that is the director Peter Berg who is, in my mind has been a very good director but can sometimes be extremely masculine when it comes to his movies, here, for me at least the masculinity as been turned up to eleven, not only that though, its coupled with a narrative that really makes very sense especially once the end credits roll. The action is competently directed which is the best thing I am able to say about this movie, as the action is a major part it would be easy for that to cover up all the holes, but somehow it just doesn’t.
“Mile 22” is based around an American black operations agent and former U.S. Marine war veteran, James Silva, who leads a strike team code-named Overwatch. In an unidentified Southeast Asian country, police officer Li Noor surrenders himself at the U.S. embassy to negotiate for passage out of the country in exchange for information. Axel, leading a team from the Indonesian State Intelligence Agency, arrives at the embassy and demands that Noor be handed over. Meanwhile, Noor fends off an assassination attempt by Indonesian agents. The plot becomes more convoluted until the Overwatch team need to lead Noor to an isolated airport to get him out of the country through hostile territory.
“Mile 22” should have been a coming out party for martial artist and actor Iko Uwais who is best known for being the star of the “The Raid” (2011-2014) movies as well as a few other Stateside movies, but this movie was his first big starring role. To be fair within the limitations of the screenplay Iko acquits himself well especially opposite more experienced actors, in fact taking the entire movie into count he is possibly the best part of it, even if his elements of the movie are part of the major problems. mile
“Mile 22” should have been a coming out party for martial artist and actor Iko Uwais who is best known for being the star of the “The Raid” (2011-2014) movies as well as a few other Stateside movies, but this movie was his first big starring role. To be fair within the limitations of the screenplay Iko acquits himself well especially opposite more experienced actors, in fact taking the entire movie into count he is possibly the best part of it, even if his elements of the movie are part of the major problems. I have no doubt that in the future Iko will find a worthy movie to display his talents as well as being a part of something very special.
All in all this is not a good movie, it is like a throwback to the 1980s style of movie making that pushed for male testosterone over anything else, think Stallone’s “Cobra” (1984) but with even less brains as well as less compelling actors to turn one dimensional characters into anything else than what they appear onscreen. This is a missed opportunity to actually show something onscreen that viewers might enjoy. If “Mile 22” had have embraced some kind of world that the “Raid” movies inhabited this could have worked well, instead it takes itself far too seriously as well as convoluting a plot that could have been simple and therefore more enjoyable as a straight action movie instead of something that it is not.
The political leanings in this movie are all over it, there is a right wing agenda that runs throughout “Mile 22” that frankly makes me question the talents of all those involved. There is a tendency towards violence and gunplay at the first sign of trouble as well as pushing the idea of guns and violence as a solution to any problem that one may have. The very opening of this movie and all the bloodshed that is involved could have been approached from a completely different direction that would have negated the entire plot, one that I would have welcomed especially seeing how this unfolds over the next ninety minutes.
Having seen this movie I would never view it again, so it is with a heavy heart I have to say that maybe it would be good for Peter Berg to go and make a different kind of movie with different partners, as I would not recommend this movie to anyone. At best I would say that this is the perfect movie to watch as part of a streaming package but even then it would be a hard sell.
Unfortunately “Mile 22” is out now on DVD & Blu-ray.