Review Mile 22: It’s disheartening that, unlike Peter Berg’s previous three works (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day) which shows his craftsmanship in authentically reenacting tragedy with blatant details but smooth side for sympathy, Mile 22 is more like a mess here and there. The blatant details are mostly missed; the sympathy are stripped off completely; sadly, the heart of the narrative that excels in his previous movies is non-existent.
Bringing back his favorite collaborator, Mark Wahlberg, to team up with hottest action stars, such as Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2, Beyond Skyline), Mile 22 seems to promise relentless spectacles. At least, the premise might look enticing as we are lured to the movie’s opening raid sequence which shows us a lot of explosions, blood and bullets. From there, it’s apparent that Berg tries to showcase style-over-substance action machismo with exuberant energy. However, as the story progress, it’s clearly seen that the energy isn’t channeled properly.
Mile 22 immediately introduces Overwatch, a special task-force led by John Malkovich’s eccentric character code-named Mother. It opens with a slick raid scene to a Russian lair in America. The scene was intense you almost can see Berg’s finest works about adversary. Wahlberg’s mentally unstable character, James Silva, is a part of the team along with Lauren Cohan’s unstable-mother character and Ronda Rousey’s femme fatale. I was almost sure that Mile 22 will be a blast if I solely judge from the opening scene. But, then, the opening credit rolls.
Once the credit rolls, the real movie comes along. Immediately, the movie becomes obsessed with hip-hop montage, 3-4 second quick cuts in a scene, to deliberately immerse audience into James Silva’s quick-tempered, mentally-unstable world. The decision was understandable since the story is, then, narrated by Silva in a dark-room interview about the outcome of the operation. While the deliberateness of this creative decision is an interesting gimmick, but, it’s not a wise decision to put it in an action movie like this. With non-patterned quick cuts, it’s difficult to focus on the true intention since it takes a while to be used to the style.
When it comes to action scenes, Peter Berg doesn’t shy away to go blatantly. The action sequences, be it a car chase, shootouts, or close combats were loud and brutal. Iko Uwais, as always advertised, injects the movie with intense, fresh choreography and viscerality. The action elements of Mile 22 solely belongs to him, as his presence foreshadows others—even Mark Wahlberg’s cranky-ass character. The thing is, Berg and team seems to be rigidly accommodating Uwais’ dynamic and brutal fighting choreography. The camera movement, combined with the final editing, might work for scenes with heavy Hollywood-style brawl and shootouts; however, with Uwais’ more dynamic movement, the camera feels a little stiff and the impact isn’t as engaging as it might actually project.
Clumsy editing and non-optimal fighting scenes adds up to the movie’s faltering narrative. For a movie better told straightforwardly, Mile 22 often strays from the line with subplots and unnecessary twists. Silva’s backstory is made as the story’s benchmark, yet, the story never really find the significance in the story. Further, Alice Kerr’s (Cohan) backstory never really hits anything. Characters are introduced, but then killed off without immediate impact. Muddle-up Russian involvement in the plot tangled up with the Indocarr (what a silly fictional city name!) authority make a perfect combination to get you lost in the midst of slums. While the story seems to set up a larger story, we can only hope that if there’s a follow-up, it should’ve at least been more compact.
While Berg’s craftsmanship for adversary stays in tact, the story and a series of bad creative direction really waste the exuberant energy that Mile 22 actually projects.
Action, Thriller Directed by: Peter Berg Written by: Graham Roland, Lea Carpenter Starred by: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich Runtime: 95 mins