THE STORYCIA operative James Silva leads a small but lethal paramilitary team on an urgent and dangerous mission. They must transport a foreign intelligence asset from an American embassy in Southeast Asia to an airfield for extraction — a distance of 22 miles. Silva and the soldiers soon find themselves in a race against time as the city’s military, police and street gangs close in to reclaim the asset.
THE CAST – Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais & Ronda Rousey
THE TEAM – Peter Berg (Director) & Lea Carpenter (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 94 Minutes
By Kt Schaefer
More than one of the advertisements for “Mile 22” billed it as the most intense action film of the year and while that may be true in some ways it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have made 3 previous films together, (“Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon” and “Patriot’s Day“) all based on real events. This time around they leave reality far behind for a high-octane story of an elite CIA team blasting their way through a Southeast Asian city complete with loads of violence, cursing, and gore.
“Mile 22” opens with the CIA team, led by Wahlberg’s character, James Silva, as they attempt to bash their way into a Russian spy house and collect any data and spies they can find. For support, they have a high-tech team known as Overwatch that is lead by Bishop (John Malkovich), which uses every resource they can to surveil the area. When the plan goes awry the team is forced to kill everyone on the compound in a brutal bloodbath that sets the tone for all the many battles and fight scenes to come. A year and a half later we find Wahlberg at a US Embassy in Asia, on the hunt for some stolen irradiated dust with a few members of his ground team.
When an informant, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), forces his way to the embassy’s gates with a storage drive in hand that holds the location of the dust, they take him in and agree to grant him asylum in exchange for the password to the drive. All they must do is get him 22 miles away to the airstrip, so they call in the Overwatch team again and prepare to head out. Complications begin to add up when it becomes apparent he isn’t the low-level cop he claims to be and that the government of the country they are in wants him back and will do whatever it takes to stop Li from escaping. Once they leave the embassy the film devolves into one long battle sequence and as Silva’s team begins to dwindle he is forced to place more and more trust in Li Noor to complete his mission and that may not be such a great idea.
At times “Mile 22” is a fun film that embraces the outrageous nature of its plot, but so much of that goodwill is lost because of the terrible editing and camerawork. All the scenes are frenetically paced with choppy cuts that make every fight and gun battle difficult to follow and as the last two-thirds of the film are mostly made up of them it rapidly grows tiresome. It uses far too many tight shots leaving the film feeling claustrophobic and detracting from the scale of the action that is taking place.
While the acting is generally good across the board all but a few of the characters feel flat. Wahlberg’s James Silva on the other is a manic nightmare of a man whose aggressively macho behavior is an amalgamation of every smart-ass action hero without any real identifying characteristics to make him feel unique. It’s a credit to Mark Wahlberg that he can make the character even somewhat likable. Iko Uwais is rightly given all the best fight scenes and Lauren Cohan does a satisfying job of being Silva’s sidekick, but neither of them is given much to work within the script. As this was an original story that Berg adjusted many times throughout production, there was plenty of opportunities to allow these characters to shine so it’s unfortunate that both are relegated to such routine supporting roles.
Both Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have stated they are hoping to spawn an action franchise with “Mile 22” and that is clear from how much they crammed into it. Throughout the opening credits, they provide a detailed backstory for James Silva, but none of it ever matters during the actual movie. They awkwardly leave one character’s fate unknown and pointedly mention it during the final wrap up of the story. It attempts to set up a complex plot but doesn’t seem quite sure how to go about it and so the reveal that comes at the end of the film is clear from the first 15 minutes. “Mile 22” tries hard to bring a new hero to the action film genre but it ends up getting in its own way too much to be really enjoyable.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – An incredibly fast-paced action extravaganza.
THE BAD – The frustrating camerawork and choppy editing detracts from every fight scene and the poorly plotted espionage story is entirely predictable.
THE FINAL SCORE – 4/10