After three movies of recreating real-life events like the Boston Marathon bombing or the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg are back with a more traditional (and fictional) action movie, Mile 22. Unfortunately, it takes a tried and true action setup and buries it under repugnant characters and choppy, terrible action.
Wahlberg stars in Mile 22 as Jimmy Silva, a ludicrously OP CIA black ops agent who is not only an expert in weapons and hand to hand combat but is also so gifted that he has to flick himself with a rubber bracelet to keep his mind from racing. Silva is the lead agent of Overwatch, a highly classified team that is called in for extremely volatile situations. Overwatch is so classified, Jimmy and his team have to “resign” from the CIA so that they are no longer employees of the US government and their support team is thousands of miles away, led by Bishop (John Malkovich). An Overwatch mission is launched when Li Noor (Iko Uwais) delivers intel on missing cesium that could be used to make dirty bombs, but he’ll only provide that intel if he’s put on a plane bound for the US and given asylum. There are corrupt agents of Indocarr, the fake Asian country that Li Noor used to work for, and they attack the team en route and they have to fight through the city to make it to the extraction. The “we have to fight our way from one point to another” is a classic action movie plot that has been used for decades but Mile 22 mostly fumbles on the execution. There’s an interminable sequence after the opening action sequence where it’s basically 30 minutes or so of Mark Wahlberg being an asshole or Lauren Cohan, who plays Overwatch agent Alice, being an asshole and arguing with her asshole ex-husband or Ronda Rousey calling a pair of CIA analysts “fucking nerds”. There’s also way too much what I would call “Bro Politics”, where Silva is giving a deposition and just rambling about how governments are afraid to get their hands dirty and the “true” way the world works. It’s like they turned Mark Wahlberg’s assertion that he would have prevented 9/11 into a 90-minute movie.
Mile 22 reminded me a lot of Sabotage in that all the characters are awful and you don’t want to spend 30 seconds with any of them, let alone 90-120 minutes. Also, when they start getting killed off, it’s more of a relief than anything, since it’s one less asshole to deal with. Iko Uwais is the only one who seems like an actual, somewhat decent human being and is one of the few saving graces of the movie. The only other interesting and fun character is Sam Medina as the main villain, Axel, who is the head of security for Indocarr and he has a cool, laid-back attitude that just seems to piss Silva off even more as he calmly asks him to hand over Li Noor.
Perhaps the most egregious sin of Mile 22 is the utter wasting of Iko Uwais’ incredible martial arts talents. If you’ve seen The Raid movies, you obviously know how exciting and incredible Uwais’ skills are but Mile 22 puts him in handcuffs and shoved behind cover for ⅔ of the movie. He gets only about 1 ½ decent fights and even then, they are edited in a horribly choppy manner and it completely distracts from the fighting on display. The gun battles are all also extremely rote and uninspired as well and full of cliches we’ve seen multiple times before, like a dying hero being given grenades for a last way to take out some villains. I criticized Equalizer 2 earlier this summer but Mile 22 is even less inspired and unoriginal.
Mile 22 should have been a slam dunk with a tried and true setup and two solid action stars in the lead but it’s bogged down by reprehensible, unpleasant characters and uninspired and terribly shot action. It wastes one of the most exciting current action stars in Iko Uwais and Mark Wahlberg is on another level as far as cinematic asshole characters (It almost makes me long for the sweet idiocy of Cade Yeager). Skip this and go watch The Raid movies or Headshot.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.