Mile 22: It fails to go the distance in disjointed action salad
Movie Review by Madhusudhanan Sridaran (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
Mile 22 is Peter Berg’s latest collaborative piece with Mark Wahlberg, in their fourth outing together. Preceded by Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriot’s Day, Mile 22 is Berg’s and Wahlberg’s ultra-patriotic, ultra-violent action fest that features a strong cast, and at first glance—a pretty enticing plot.
Going by the consensuses for the previous Berg/Wahlberg collaborations, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Mile 22 is another solid outing that delivers punchy action, and crunchy explosions.
This assumption, however, proves to be very distant from the truth. Mile 22 is phrenetic, hyper, and agitated, in all of the wrong ways. The true tragedy here is that the plot is somewhat of a perfect foundation for an action movie: Silva (Wahlberg) and his crack squad of CIA agents (Team Overwatch, not to be confused with the Blizzard game of the same name) under the supervision of James Bishop (John Malkovich) lead a strike team to infiltrate an undercover Russian safehouse in the United States. Lauren Cohan (of Walking Dead fame) and MMA legend Ronda Rousey star as Alice Kerr, and Sam Snow, respectively—the other agents on Silva’s team.
Overwatch’s objective is to intercept and destroy shipments of cesium, a substance which could create global catastrophe if it were to fall into the wrong hands. Silva makes this fact very clear in an adrenaline-fueled spitfire monologue that makes you wonder if Marky Mark has been snorting blow during his time on the side. As a matter of fact, the entire movie has a jittery way about it. This is especially true of the camera work, which is disorienting and confusing. In between shots of body parts and bullets flying around, all the audience can make out for sure is that there is a crimson colored splat on the screen somewhere. The editing of the action scenes, interspersed with the expository dialogue leaves a lot to be desired.
Mile 22 is in many ways, a disjointed and unfinished work, and this fact is evident from certain changeovers in production. The movie feels like a clumsy and disorienting collage, which borrows elements from different visions, hastily sewing them together in time to rush out a new IP. The original screenplay for the movie was penned down by Graham Roland. Sometime in 2015, production announced that first-time writer Lea Carpenter had taken over screenplay duties, with Graham Roland in a supportive role. The story’s lack of general direction and coherence lend credence to the presence of potential creative conflict behind the scenes. Whatever the case, Mile 22 doesn’t read as a whole, and it doesn’t read as the sum of its parts either. It comes across as shoddy, shaky, and corny—all of the boxes that you don’t want an action movie to tick.
Coming back to the plot, Iko Uwais (Li Noor) plays a police officer from the unnamed Southeast Asian country the movie takes place in. He agrees to assist Silva and Co., in their search for the cesium. In return, he demands asylum in the United States, or no dice. Silva and Co. agree to his demands, and the movie is named after the 22-mile escort mission to the extraction zone. You have no real idea what’s happening in-between. The movie’s standout scene demonstrates the considerable martial arts prowess of Indonesian actor Iko Uwais. He literally manages to make minced meat out of his government-authorized assailants, while being handcuffed to a hospital gurney. Remember that crimson splat I talked about earlier? While this scene is the best part of the movie, it is shot in a way that you never really have a clear idea of what’s going on in the screen.
Mile 22 is an interesting release. Aside from a massive twist at the end of the film, it has very few redeeming qualities, and no characters that the audience can root for, let alone relate to. The movie stands as a shoddy action piece, whose sole purpose is its potential sequel. Give Mile 22 a miss, unless you like headache inducing camera work and rapid-fire, cocaine-induced monologues by self-righteous white men.