Why Peter Berg, why?
Mark Wahlberg and Peter Berg have made some great movies together in the past. Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriot’s Day are all well-made and well-acted films. Their fourth film together, Mile 22, belongs nowhere near that list.
Honestly, it’s hard to comprehend how this one even got made.
Wahlberg plays James Silva, easily the most annoying character to appear in a movie in 2018, as Wahlberg is trying to channel his inner Ben Affleck from The Accountant and portray Silva as a highly deranged, unstable military nut.
The only problem is that Wahlberg can’t do that nearly as well as Affleck, at least not in Mile 22, and it just comes off as laughably bad. There’s a repeated shot of Wahlberg snapping a rubber band around his wrist that began to drive me insane as it’s thrown into the movie so many times.
Even though Silva is borderline psychotic, he’s in charge of a secret government team known as Overwatch. They’re like any other undercover secret-ops team you’ve seen in a million other movies — basically, they’re just there to do the dirty work.
Again, almost to an offensive, or at least questionable, degree. There are scenes in which people ask their boss for permission to kill someone, act sad when they don’t get it and then smile and laugh when they do. The body count winds up being pretty ridiculous by the time the credits roll.
After some highly explosive chemical weapons are stolen, Silva is giving a new mission: he has to protect the one man who knows where they are.
Li Noor (Ikow Uwais of The Raid) is an Indonesian police officer who has, somehow (I don’t think it’s ever actually explained how), got his hands on the location of the explosive materials. He’s willing to hand them over to the United States government on one condition: they get him out of this country.
Noor has made some enemies while living in Indonesia, as the entire government wants him dead and will stop at nothing to do so.
And, because this movie needs some kind of ticking clock conflict, Noor thought it’d be a good idea to give the Americans a deadline. Either they get him out of the country in eight hours, or the information is lost forever. I get why Noor might want some kind of bargaining chip, but having a self-destructive button like this makes no sense when there are a billion people out to kill him and Wahlberg’s team is the only one protecting him.
Anyways, Noor’s plane is 22 miles away and there’s danger on every corner.
Not that we can see anything that’s actually happening during Mile 22. The worst part of this movie isn’t the lack of story structure, the subplot involving Lauren Cohan’s daughter and some random text messaging app or the fact that a character actually says “say hello to your mother for me” to Mark Wahlberg (I’m dead serious). It’s the shaky camera.
I don’t know, maybe I was being optimistic, but I thought the days of shaky camera and quick cuts died after John Wick came out. Paul Greengrass introduced the technique with The Bourne Identity — one of the few movies where it actually worked — and then the million copy-cats that followed turned it into a headache-inducing technique.
Apparently, Berg is a big fan, as he brings it back with a vengeance here.
All of the action scenes are so up-close, choppy and edited that it’s nearly impossible to tell anything that’s going on during these moments. The Raid is one of the best-choreographed action movies of all time and that’s largely in part because of Uwais’s stunt work, but you can’t actually make out anything that the actor is doing in Mile 22 because it’s put together so poorly.
Apart from the first ten minutes of the film, that is. I’d heard the complaints about Mile 22 before walking into the theater on Sunday, so I was pleasantly surprised when the movie kicked off on a rather intense and competently put together note. The cold-open is one that’s actually fairly impressive and had me thinking that all the other critics might be wrong on this one.
They weren’t. As soon as that’s over and Mile 22 remembers that it actually has a story to tell, this thing falls apart in a few minutes of itself.
The weird thing is that it actually seems like the filmmakers all thought they were being funny and clever when making this movie. Wahlberg, bless his soul, is playing up all his lines about having some kind of mental disorder that makes him crazy for laughs. Again, he’s clearly trying to channel The Accountant here and turn his typical badass soldier persona into something a little more unique, but the execution and delivery are so bad that it’s more offensive than anything.
Then there’s the ending. Don’t even get me started on the ending. It’s bad. Obviously, I’m not going to go into details for spoiler's sake (even though you really shouldn’t care, because you really shouldn’t waste time on this movie), but it’s really bad. The only part of Mile 22 that’s actually funny (unintentionally so) is during these final few moments, when they actually have the guts to try and set this thing up for a sequel.
No way in hell does this thing get a sequel.
The highest compliment I can pay Mile 22 is it’s short runtime, coming it at just 90 minutes. I’m grateful for that because I didn’t want to sit through any more of that. Mile 22 misses just about every mark that it’s trying to hit — which really is a shame because there are so many talented people involved in this project. Not just Wahlberg, Berg and Uwais, but Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey and John Malkovich too.
That’s right, Ronda Rousey and Ikow Uwais show up in the same movie and they don’t even fight each other. What a waste.
Watch the trailer for Mile 22 here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the movie!
'Mile 22' review: The shaky cam will give you a headache3