Met with quite a few negative reviews across the Atlantic, Mile 22 has seemingly split audiences on its worthiness as a solid action-thriller, many sighting it to be an incoherent mess. But when we are sold on a genre, that is released in abundance every year, how do you make the next action flick different from the last 25 releases? Well it would seem with Mile 22, that the remedy lies in subverting the known action structure we are use to…well, that’s what it attempts to do.
Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, a black-ops, counter-intelligence, paramilitary…well you get the drift, he’s a special weapons and tactics badass. But he’s a badass with some sort of personality dysfunction which serves him in the field, but not so much when it comes to inter-personal communication around office spaces. After a semi-successful op, where we get to see the members of Silva’s team in action, one of his operative’s; Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan) has one of her Indonesian informants, Li Noor (Iko Uwais) appear at their US Embassy base, brandishing important intel. He peacefully arrives, wanting to defect and tries to enter as a ‘walk-in’ but he is deemed suspicious and received with caution and suspicion. After a vetting period, that is accidentally fast-tracked due to a random visit from the Indonesian government trying to get Li Noor back, as well as their sly and failed assassination attempt of him at the same time, Silva and his superiors deem that Li Noor must be important. he proves to be so, as he ends up offering intel on the location of some deadly and missing radioactive isotope, if his terms of being extradited to America are met. Only when he is at the extraction point, will he be willing to divulge the intel, but the plane that will take him to the US, is located ’22 miles’ away and what ensues, is the Indonesian governments full ballistic endeavour, to counter Silva’s team and make sure Li Noor never gets to it.
If you are familiar with Clint Eastwood’s The Gauntlet (1977), Robert De Niro’s Midnight Run (1988) and Bruce Willis’ 16 Blocks (2006), then you will understand the premise of escorting a key asset from one location to another, whilst being chased, outnumbered and outgunned for your troubles.
Director Peter Berg likes to make complicated action films: The Kingdom (2006), The Losers (2010) and Lone Survivor (2013) another Wahlberg led film, are not straight-forward walks in the park. The good guys maybe highly skilled, but not so much that they walk through danger as if they can’t be touched. Berg doesn’t do those films, he likes to mix in a political angle, throw in gritty danger and stir things up so you feel that you are taking shrapnel too. If you want to get the most out of this film, then pay attention to it. And when I say pay attention, I mean take note from even the opening credits, because there is important info on the lead character within them. I don’t normally read reviews of films I myself am reviewing, but I did see some comments that cited director Berg as someone who was trying to create his own Jason Bourne franchise. Personally, I would lean towards a similarity with Ben Affleck’s The Accountant, but without the in-depth prologue and heavy detail of the main protagonists gifts, this makes Mile 22 more about the mission, than the lead character.
Mile 22 is a good enough action flick, I admire the effort from Wahlberg, who tries to play the character away from his own personality. Just because he’s not Daniel Day Lewis, I don’t think he should be criticised, I think he should be encouraged to do so more often. The twist at the end ties things up nicely for a sequel, but admittedly, when it did end, I was still expecting at least another 35 minutes of film. Sidenote; the film is suppose to be the first of a trilogy, but whether that goes ahead due to its lukewarm response in its home territory, is anyone’s guess.
Mile 22 also stars John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey and Sam Medina and is out nationwide on September 19th 2018