Updated: Feb 7, 2020
Mile 22 is another in a long line of films following a covert military unit tasked with defending the United States from terrorists. It attempts to be topical with references to Russian hacking and collusion as well as dialogue about what operatives such as these really need to do to protect this country. However, none of those things have much to do with the plot. They are there because the filmmakers knew viewers would be thinking about them while watching their movie. In reality, this is just a mindless, hyper-edited, violent thriller, with a paper-thin story and character quirks substituting for actual personality. For the most part, this feels like a bunch of scenes in search of a purpose.
Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, the leader of an elite group of operatives. Their mission is to protect a source who claims to have information that will help them prevent a massive terrorist attack. The rest of the film consists of the cast swearing at each other in between confusingly choreographed action sequences. Silva is a short-tempered, anti-authority jerk prone to extended monologues about how important what he does is and how all anybody else does is drag him down. Despite being the hero, he is quite obnoxious. Wahlberg struggles to get anything interesting out of him.
The second most developed character is Alice, played by Lauren Cohan, whose only trait is that she hates spending so much time away from her daughter. Iko Uwais is the asset they are unsure they can trust, but must keep safe. He is the best thing in Mile 22. John Malkovich pops up in a thankless role as the team’s commander. He stays in an office barking orders while they are in the field. Former mixed martial artist and current professional wrestler Ronda Rousey is another member of Silva’s unit. She shows good presence as an action star, though all she gets to do is be angry and shoot at people.
There is little in terms of plot or character, so that leaves the action to carry Mile 22. Since it is, after all, an action movie, there are a lot of fight scenes, shootouts and explosions. Individual moments are decent, but this is one of those productions where the action is hard to follow because of constant cutting on seemingly every movement. Very few motions are seen in their entirety. Instead of making things more exciting, the editing here becomes disorienting. There are a couple of them that sort of work, like the opening sequence or one involving a hospital bed, but director Peter Berg never slows down enough to let viewers get engaged in what they are seeing.
Mile 22 (86 minutes without the end credits) makes the mistake of thinking a breakneck pace is a suitable replacement for a well-crafted story, enjoyable dialogue and thrilling action. It is not bad, unless bad means the absence of anything good. In that case, it is pretty bad. Just not in a memorable way. This seems like the type of movie someone will mention to me in several months and I will remember nothing about it, not even that it starred Mark Wahlberg. There have definitely been worse films in 2018, though few that are less interesting.
1½ out of 5
Mark Wahlberg as James Silva
Lauren Cohan as Alice Kerr
Iko Uwais as Li Noor
John Malkovich as Bishop
Ronda Rousey as Sam Snow
Directed by Peter Berg
Screenplay by Lea Carpenter