If the story was a bit more fleshed out, I might admire this film’s ability to subtly trigger progressives by reminding them that Trump is president. Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have made quite the duo in the last few years. Berg and Wahlberg have joined to create critically acclaimed films such as Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day. While some critics may have a problem with the team’s knack for patriotism, the body of work was enough to give them the benefit of the doubt for their latest film Mile 22. Unfortunately, what we got was a film that wins in some areas and loses in others.
Mile 22 is a film about a convert CIA tactical team called Overwatch. Their job is to get valuable Intel by any means necessary to stop international threats to national security. When an asset walks into an American embassy in Southeast Asia, The team is in a race against the clock to extract the asset out of the country so they can find the location of an extremely hazardous chemical that will put millions of lives at risk.
Mile 22 is a mixed bag of a film. The opening is strong enough to gauge the interest of the audience. A convert black ops style mission filled with brutality and suspense. It is when the film introduces Mark Wahlberg’s character where things begin to get muddy. Not only does the film’s narrative get confusing because they are trying to add so many elements that don’t have any bearing on the overall story but his character is the one that causes the most speed bumps in the film. Mark plays James Silva and while his character is given a little backstory about being a hothead with violence issues, Wahlberg’s performance just comes off as jarring. One of my primary concerns about the film was the short runtime, just over 90 minutes. That may be fine for a comedy, but for an action/thriller like this, you do need more time to flesh out character motivations in a story. Here Walberg plays a bipolar wildcard with the gift of verbal diarrhea, but we don’t know much about him (outside of the fact his character is based on Steve Bannon which doesn’t make much sense).
It’s also pretty obvious that Berg put Iko Uwais in the film for some Raid like inspiration which comes off well but rushed. The 2nd act of the movie is where all the issues lie and the main problem comes in its writing. When the film focuses on being an action film and a thriller that is where the film works. Where it lacks, is setting up the story to get us to the point where we can admire the great set pieces. Despite Wahlberg’s flaws as a character, he and Lauren Cohan work really well together. Ronda Rousey who is clearly inexperienced as an actress does very well in her role, and Uwais is a scene stealer.
Much like The 15:17 to Paris, Mile 22 is 2/3 of a decent film, but the problem is that it loses so much focus halfway through, it simply isn’t enough to pull them back out in the end once all the twists are revealed.