By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2 (Out of 4 Stars)
Poor writing/character development, messy editing and inexplicable acting choices plague what is sometimes a grtipping and intense action-thriller by director Peter Berg. Berg, who works with Indonesian actor/stuntman/ fight choreographer Iko Uwais, manages to create and capture some amazing action sequences of visceral violence, but just doesn’t have a properly written story surrounding and connecting these magical moments. To make things worse, a completely miscast Mark Wahlberg gives a one-note performance that would have been better suited for a background supporting character and not for the lead protagonist. Mile 22 is supposed to be a harrowing journey for its character, but also proves to be a difficult ride for the audience.
Wahlberg stars as James Silva, a supposedly ingenious and definitely idiosyncratic leader of an elite secret task force charged with missions of highly sensitive natures. After a secret retrieval mission goes poorly, Silva and his unit must redeem themselves. An opportunity arises when an informant named Li Noor (Iko Uwais) offers the U.S. government some highly sensitive information in exchange for asylum. Silva’s unit must escort Noor safely through 22 miles of hairy and hazardous territory to get him to safety. This proves to be nearly impossible, as Noor’s enemies do everything they can to neutralize hin and Silva’s unit.
Written by Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland, Mile 22 is a mostly mindless action flick that pretends to be much smarter than it is. Unlike the more intelligently and overall powerful Sicario, the movie has a messy and thin story and treats its characters as shooting targets and punching bags. The visceral nature of the violence is to be expected and is probably the only saving grace of the film, but all of the characters lack the necessary dimensional development to make audiences care about them.
The only times I really enjoyed the film were during the high octane, bullet-fueled and gruesome fight scenes. This is thanks to the fantastic choreography and stuntwork by Iko Uwais who brings his insanely brutal brand of fighting to this American film. Occasionally sloppy cinematography and unusual editing don’t always do these scenes justice, but when they do, the sequences are absolutely phenomenal.
Even Iko perfortms decently in a role with limited development, as is the case with some of the other cast members. The movie features adequate work by Lauren Conrad, John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey and more, but it is Mark Wahlberg’s bizarrely manic and permanently angry turn as Victor Silva which left me often bewildered and occasionally unintentionally amused.
For sure I had hoped that I’d find more to enjoy about this movie, but Mile 22 often is a tedious and meandering piece that could have been so much better with a better screenplay and a different lead actor. Though I totally didn’t hate Berg’s latest offering, I am going to have to advise my readers to pass on this one. One would be better off watching Sicario, Heat, or even Den of Thieves. For some crazy badass Indonesian action starring Iko Uwais, I must definitely recommend The Raid. As for this movie, I wouldn’t waste my time or money on this hot mess.