Mark Wahlberg reunites with Peter Berg for Mile 22. The movie features the fourth collaboration between the actor and director, having both previously worked together on Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. The lack of political depth that featured heavily in the previous two films is absent here, replaced with brutal violence and loads of bullets. Loads and loads of bullets.
James Silva (Wahlberg) leads an elite strike-team code-named Overwatch. His team are tasked with taking out a Russian safe house and locating shipments of deadly caesium before it is weaponised. They fail in finding the materials, killing all the Russian operatives in the process. Sixteen months later, Overwatch get a lead on the material when Indonesian police officer Li Noor (Iko Uwais) surrenders himself at the US Embassy. He offers up the location of the caesium in exchange for safe passage out the country. Seems like a simply job for Overwatch with one small catch; the Indonesian Government aren’t willing to let Noor leave.
Right off the bat Berg positions Overwatch as morally dubious. Sure, they’re fighting for the greater good but when they’re given authorisation to execute assailants rather than arrest them, it’s clear they’re not going to be cookie cutter good guys. Wahlberg turns the charm on which makes him impossible to dislike even though he tries his best by shooting people in cold blood and treating his team mates with a methodical contempt. It’s not that he doesn’t like his colleagues, he’s just a man that’s all about the mission. Thankfully Lauren Cohen’s Alice is a warmer character, the heart of the team; she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, she also depicts a more human side to these special ops.
This isn’t a character drama and although we care for the players in the game, we’re here for the action and there’s plenty of that. Uwais is in fine form as the icy Noor, an elite martial artist, he raised the bar for fight sequences in The Raid films. Here, the frenetic camera work fails to do his choreography justice at times, nevertheless his skills are notable and he elevates the set pieces he’s involved in, particularly when he’s handcuffed to a bed fighting off bad guys. It’s criminal that he isn’t a bigger action star. The editing is little on the manic side which makes a mess of some of the scenes however it also fits the pace of the film. At its core, Mile 22 is a chase movie and that feeling of urgency is never lost from the minute Overwatch leaves the embassy.
John Malkovich feels criminally underused as the team’s overall commander, James Bishop. His performance is fine as you’ed expect from the veteran actor, he just doesn’t get any material to sink his teeth into. Ronda Rousey as Sam Snow impresses, hinting that a promising career could away should she should to concentrate on this medium.
The lack of a tangible villain hurts the story, although the scenes with Silva and his counterpart, Axel (Sam Medina), provide some tense dick measuring dialogue that you’d expect from an action movie of this calibre. The finale seems a little anticlimactic from a visual perspective, yet it delivers a one two narrative punch. It’s clear the filmmakers are hoping for a sequel which could be promising should they build on the mayhem.
Mile 22 is breakneck chaos with old school action movie tropes and a throwaway plot. Chances are you’re not here for the story though and it’s the action that will keep audiences satisfied with this popcorn fodder.