“Mile 22” suffers from a lack of understanding on how action-films are supposed to work and engage audiences. Timing issues and heavy-handed storytelling coupled with poor casting choices cause “Mile 22” a lot of self-inflicted problems. It’s not all bad, there are a few top-notch scenes, but it’s too long of a walk to get to them. It has the director’s (Peter Berge) feel to the gritty nature, but it loses its way along its rout to the end.
James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is a leader of a black ops team. His mission is to get the package, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), a defecting police operative, to the military airport 22 miles away. On their tail is a corrupt security officer, Axel (Sam Medina) of the random South East Asian town they are holed up in. Axel is throwing all his military resources at them to ensure that Li Noor does not make it to the plane.
On paper, “Mile 22” looks like a great film. However, the filmmakers are trying to tell several different sides of the same story, and it's not effective. One story is events as they are happening. The other story is an after-action interview. The problem is the two don't blend together well. Using the interview to break up the action was distracting, and did nothing to move the story forward. A note to the filmmakers: “You should not spoil your own story halfway through the second act, because the interview interludes give away the climatic end.”
James Silva is supposed to be the cornerstone of a new Ethan Hunt-like franchise. The problem is that Silva is a completely disagreeable and unlikable character. He’s not only abrasive to the people on his own team, he has this gimmicky "on the spectrum" habit that makes him snap a rubber band on his wrist whenever his mind races out of control. It is way overused, and we not only see it constantly when he is on screen, the filmmakers added it as a sound effect when we hear him snap off camera.
There are endless barking monologs that Wahlberg performs perfectly, but are still uninteresting to watch after the first few. His fight scenes did not have the same elegance as his counterpart. In contrast to Silva, Li Noor was incredibly engaging, mysterious, skilled, and way more enjoyable to watch on screen. He barely speaks, but is completely engaging, because of his impressive skills. Li Noor’s fight scenes were outstanding and that’s what this movie was sold on.
Also, how do you have mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey in a film, and not have her single-handedly take down a room full of bad guys single handedly? Rousey is such a powerhouse who needs more physical work to do on screen. She looked great at executing the military tactics, but it was a missed opportunity. Lauren Cohan had way more physical stuff that she did awesomely. It looked great and the tension in the fight felt real.
“Mile 22” was packaged as a gauntlet type film; plucky heroes fight their way every inch of the 22-mile journey. It turned out to be grumpy people grousing at one another along the way. Mile 22 felt like 22 thousand miles.
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