Synopsis: An elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country (From IMDb).
Review: If you have watched any form of action film released in the last twenty years, the plot of Mile 22 becomes painfully obvious after twenty minutes. Mark Wahlberg and Paul Berg reunite for their fourth film together, first one based on an original script and not a quasi-biographical narrative. Previous collaborations include Lone Survivor (2013), Deepwater Horizon (2016), and Patriots Day (2016), which all depict real life events. I like Wahlberg, he oscillates between drama and comedy without feeling out of place in either. Unfortunately, Mile 22 failed to achieve much originality, it felt more paint-by-number than new and exciting.
Mile 22 depicts an elite covert CIA team that deploy only when all other options fail. If they fail, no one is coming to save them. Mark Wahlberg plays the leader, Jimmy Silva, a walking lethal weapon with a bad attitude. A hard-bitten agent and assassin, Jimmy never misses a to speak in aggressive rapid-fire tones about history, violence, nuclear weapons, his ex-wives, and so forth. Part way through the film a home-movie type montage of Jimmy’s childhood plays. The main problem with Jimmy is the lack of character development. Supposedly, Jimmy suffers from anti-social behavior and extreme anger. Wahlberg portrays Jimmy as a ball of rage who speaks in hard, clipped tones. Only problem, even perpetually angry people experience other emotions. Ben Affleck portrayed a similar character in The Accountant (2016) with better results.
The movie opens with Jimmy and his team bursting into a wood side suburban home that actually hides a Russian sleeper cell. This raid results in a frenzied ambush, glimpsed through low quality surveillance images monitored by a tech squad headed by Bishop, who is played by an underutilized John Malkovich. These hackers track the health of each team member as a method of tracking who lives or dies. He events of this mission set up the main narrative arc for the rest of the film.
A mystery agent, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), turns himself in to the American embassy of his home country claiming to know the location of a stolen Cesium shipments. While never identified, the host country seems like a harder, edgier version of South Korea. Li stored the information on a self-destructing disc, and has the unlock code. The disc will self-destruct in eight hours. In order to ensure his survival, Li will only reveal the code if Jimmy and his team escort him through twenty-two treacherous miles to a plane bound for America.
Jimmy’s team includes veteran agent Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), who struggles with the realities of her profession. She has a daughter and an ex-husband who is divorcing her and moving on with someone named Linda. Alice’s main emotional development involves a lot of crying, cursing out her ex- over the phone-even though the new divorce software shuts down her communication with her young daughter as punishment for dirty language-and shouting at Jimmy. Cohan, from “The Walking Dead,” makes the most of a poorly sketched character. Ronda Rousey plays a meaner version of herself. None of the characters experience any real development and do not stand out in any memorable manner.
Berg chose to use a shaky cam, machine-gun style in order to get across the grittiness of the characters. The editing and dark cinematography makes some of the action sequences difficult to follow. Iko Uwaism, who plays Li, is a top notch martial-art star. Unfortunately, the script only gave him on martial art-esque sequence and never used his skills again. The jumpiness of the camera combined with the jumbled narrative arc made a lot of the action sequences overly hard to follow.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the film is the depiction of modern warfare elements, combining boots-on-the-ground soldiers with high-tech, drone support. The plot stay current by including Russian hackers as a the secondary antagonists. While the script contains some good moments, they fail to shine amongst the jumble of everything else. Finally, viewers need to suspend a lot of disbelief that an ultra-secret, off-the-book team of commandos conduct all-out guerrilla warfare in broad daylight on a busy city before countless cameras while also staying completely undetected. Mile 22 contains a strong cast that is let down by a weak script and a twist you could see coming from miles away. This film was meant to serve as the launchpad for an action trilogy helmed by Wahlberg. I do not think that plan will happen.