This is the fourth collaboration between actor Wahlberg and director Berg, who previously brought three true-life stories to the screen: 2013’s memorable “Lone Survivor”, 2016’s inspiring “Deepwater Horizon” and the hard pushing “Patriots Day” (also released in 2016). “Mile 22” is an original story and it’s quite a turn.
This movie actually should’ve been called “22 Miles” or something else entirely, since the plot centers around a group of elite, undercover CIA operatives who must get an informant safely from Point A to Point B – exactly 22 miles – while being hunted by killers. As the film unfolds, it becomes apparent that Mile #22 isn’t significant at all.
With “Mile 22” there’s no shortage of action, more than half of the short, 95-minute runtime consists of scenes involving automatic weapon assaults and explosions, most of which take place at the same time with lightning-fast editing techniques that ensues which I love. Unfortunately, despite Mark Wahlberg’s fast talking head honcho leader personality with collaborator Peter Berg, “Mile 22” falls short with character development.
There are rigid performances all the way around from a hilariously disgruntled and hot headed Wahlberg, to Lauren Cohan, even Berg himself, who appears in a cringeworthily awkward scene. John Malkovich gets the quirky role of “Mother”, the head of operations; he stays calm through out a bit surprising.
Written by Lea Carpenter from a story by Carpenter and Graham Roland, there is never a doubt that this is Carpenter’s first screenplay. Using a simple structuring with characters moving from point A to point B with obstacles thrown in-between, Carpenter is proficient at moving the pieces of the puzzle, but with is short run time we get only snip-bits to connect and invest in any of the characters, apart from the film’s antagonist. That’s right. The antagonist played by martial arts phenom Iko Uwais.
Iko Uwais does get a couple impressive action scenes more toned down compared to his “Raid” movies. His back-story is the most fleshed out than anyone else there’s clearly more to him than what is on the surface.
It basically plays like a hard R rated “Mission: Impossible”. Their latest task: help transport a lethally targeted intelligence source (Uwais) safely out of his volatile homeland (Colombia subs, oddly, for a fictionalized Indonesia) in exchange for critical terror tip-offs.
Surprisingly, the movie does manage to squeeze in a decent amount of characterization amid the bullets, bombs, and plentiful bloodshed. Cohan is the standout, not only projecting a butt-kicking coldness, but also eagerly attacking a story thread about her hostile ex (cameo player Berg) guilting her over being an absentee mom.
Reports say Wahlberg and Berg plan on turning “Mile 22” into a trilogy. Hopefully they come up with better future titles. The script has a few surprises in store; with its brief run time and shocking cliffhanger it does set the stage for a trilogy. It will be interesting to see were this goes in telling a story about the CIA’s “most highly-prized and least understood unit.”
R (strong violence and language throughout)
Streaming on ClearPlay-soon on VidAngel
REVIEW SCORE/ B