a critiQal film review Mile 22 (2018)

Plot: James Silva (Wahlberg) is an operative for the CIA's most highly prized and least understood unit. As the enemy closes in, a top-secret tactical command team helps Silva retrieve and transport a valuable asset that holds life-threatening information.

836 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 10s)
  • ...a coldly annoying Wahlberg, too many quick cuts, and a total lack of character development make viewers feel sad for Cohan and Uwais, whose performances are largely wasted in this mess.

With famed MMA fighter Ronda Rousey recently switching over to WWE RAW, a new film with her in it immediately got my attention. But, with Mark Wahlberg’s iffy track record (don’t get me started again on The Happening (2008)), I figured I’d wait until Mile 22 was available for viewing at home to find out if Rousey could act.

Now that it’s arrived, I couldn’t wait to check it out. But, would Mile 22 be worth the wait? Or is it another dud from Wahlberg? And is Rousey the next breakout movie star at WWE, or is she destined for bit roles like Triple H?

Wahlberg has been having a better time at the movies as of late. With films like Deepwater Horizon (2016) and Patriots Day (2016) earning decent reviews, he only seems to trip up recently when paired with Will Ferrell (Daddy’s Home (2015)). Unfortunately, his character in the gritty Mile 22 wish for the good old days of The Departed. Supposed to be a genius with a violence issue, his character spends most of the film alternating between being a deadshot and annoying everyone around him. His team seems to have some issues that need addressing, but instead of actually doing something about it, he berates them like a pumped-up Rain Man (1988). His lengthy monologues are half of the entire film’s dialogue, and the viewer starts looking for the fast-forward button.

Thankfully, while irritating as a character, he seems to have gotten a solid team behind him in Mile 22. Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead” (TV)) gets the brunt of the screen time, leaving Rousey and the rest very little to show for their efforts. While Lauren is solid, it would have been nice to have seen at least a bit more from Rousey, rather than what turns out to be a much briefer appearance than her top billing would suggest. Lauren, at least, gets to show conflicting emotions during the film, which is more than most of the other characters get to even experience.

Iko Uwais, who apparently has made a name for himself overseas, gets to show off a little bit of the martial arts skills that brought him to the table. Obviously a solid actor, he carries Mile 22 more than even Wahlberg, and viewers are drawn more into his storyline because of it.

The action itself is bloody, brutal, and fast-paced. With too much shaky cam footage, and fight sequences that put old MTV videos to shame with their quick cuts, it’s hard to follow along when the fighting is on – and since that’s almost all of Mile 22, that’s a bit of a letdown.

The premise of Mile 22 is pretty straightforward. A secret squad of elite American black ops personnel are tasked with escorting an asset with vital information from the US embassy in a (fictional) Southeastern Asia country to a waiting plane 22 miles away that will whisk him off to safety. Obviously, something goes wrong along the way, and this elite military team has to fight off basically an entire army to accomplish their objective.

While this has been done before (S.W.A.T. (2003)), Mile 22 really lacks the character depth to pull it off. With little more than an introduction to the “heroic” team, they start getting taking out of the picture really quickly, leaving the viewer undecided on how to feel. Should they be caring more for these characters? But how can they, with such little lead-up? And with quick shots to Wahlberg in an interrogation room and a Russian woman aboard a plane, the film keeps to trying to distract the viewers as much as possible.

It’s really too bad. Peter Berg has shown he can make an intense action pic (The Kingdom (2007)), and Wahlberg has worked well with him in the past (Lone Survivor (2014)), but this team up not only wastes their talents, it leaves viewers still up in the air about Rousey as an actress, and wastes a solid Lauren Cohan and Iko Uwais in what is, overall, a rather bad film.

And then the film ends, obviously leaving room for a sequel. And maybe that’s the biggest problem. Since Mile 22 was apparently planned as a trilogy from the start, it might explain why their isn’t really any character development in this first film. Maybe, if we had followed this team over the course of a previous film, then we might feel a little more when something happens to them. But, we didn’t get that, and are instead left with a film whose sole purpose seems to be to get viewers to come back for the sequel. Unfortunately, with the rather poor showing at the box office (and lots of negative reviews), chances are that sequel will never come to be.

And what does that leave us, the viewer, with? A botched attempt at creating a new superspy, that’s what. Berg may have been dreaming that this would become the next MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, but he should have concentrated more on making this first film actually worth watching instead of concentrating so hard on future plans.

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