After teaming up for three based on a true story films that all received critical acclaim  Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg take their shot at a summer blockbuster to close out the summer.

Peter Berg is one of the most inconsistent filmmakers of the modern day era. When he is off, he is all the way off. But when he truly understands the source material And trusts his instincts (see:his based on a true event trilogy with Mark Wahlberg) , he can be one of the most effective filmmakers working today. With purely action franchises slowly fading away for more lucrative franchises (also known as cinematic universes), Mile 22 seemed perfect for eventual sequels from the mere premise alone. Mile 22 follows an elite CIA task force composed of paramilitary officers from the Special Activities Division. Their mission is to escort a valuable asset 22 miles to an extraction point while being hunted by terrorist groups.

With a cast consisting of action star Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, legendary action star Iko Uwais and former UFC champion and current WWE superstar Ronda Rousey, this film is filled with the right ingredients to make an action packed film, well no.

Mile 22 is riddled with poor characters, little to no character development, no charm or uniqueness that makes the film drag in its run time. All of the narrative and plot flaws would be forgiven if the action in the film was directed with any percision, but even with one of the best physical actors working in cinema today with Iko Uwais, the action sequences are barred down by quick cuts and “shaky-cam”, making this one of the worst directed and choreographed action films in recent memory.

For those of you who don’t know, there is a place for shaky cam in Hollywood to increase intensity and drama in hand to hand combat, extremely physical fights. But when it is done correctly that means the actors have to be in focus (which they were not in Mile 22) and the cuts have to be meaningful, not to just put in your stunt double (see: any of the Bourne films by Paul Greengrass).

For a film that clocks in at a very concise 95 minutes,  Mile 22 has a surreal amount of exposition scenes that usually involve one character dumping a bunch of information to the audience in the most mundane way. In every scene it almost feels as if the film overreaches to highlight a bigger picture that is not really there. Sometimes you have to just roll with the punches and just have fun. Let Mark Wahlberg blow things up, let Ronda Rousey put people in arm bars and let Iko Uwais do acrobatic, crowd pleasing action that made The Raid one of the best action films ever created. But no, we get expository dialogue that no one in the audience cared for and could put anxious toddlers to sleep.

The film’s first flaw was having such an unlikable character as its main protagonist. Mark Wahlberg plays the squad leader and his character is borderline insufferable and has a rare condition which causes him to think too far ahead so he has a wristband that he flicks on his wrists to make him stop overthinking. I mean sure.

Wahlberg plays Jimmy Silva,  who director Peter Berg declares to be the “first bipolar action hero” and states that the character was also inspired by former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.

Iko Uwais, who Berg says was one of the main attractions for him to sign alongside Wahlberg, is the biggest asset to the film. He is the best physical actors working today and is any action franchises/director dream star as he can carry the brunt of the physical labour and limit the directors job to “action, cut”.  As someone who takes his craft very seriously (almost too serious) , Uwais action scenes requires very little editing or cuts on the basis that he can do all his own stunts. So why does Peter Berg and his producers confuse Iko Uwais for a 70 year old Morgan Freeman in his action sequences who needs shaky cam and quick cuts to compensate for a lack of physical prowess.

The manic cutting and out of camera garbage turns even Uwais’s best fight scene, which begins with him handcuffed to a hospital bed while being attacked by two men, into an eyesore. We hear a great fight scene, but we never see one.

I would criticize the third act of the film if there was one. The film felt like a hot air balloon slowly deflating and by the 70th minute, everyone just wanted to go home, including Mark Wahlberg. The film provides one of the most forced shoein for a sequel I have ever seen and there lies the problem, inauthenticity. Nothing about this film felt real, outside of Iko Uwais, it seemed as if the cast and crew were downright sleepwalking throughout the 95 minute runtime of the film just to tell a bigger story for oncoming sequels that I hope wont ever make it out of pre production.

The editors of Mile 22 must be exhausted and somewhat horrified at what they have created. With all the talent infront and behind the camera, Mile 22 represents one of the biggest misses of 2018.

Grade:D-

 

 

 

Ananth Para
paramana@mcmaster.ca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *