Courtesy of STX Films
There’s only so much that Mark Wahlberg can do before his routine starts to wear thin.
On the cusp of his best collaboration with frequent director Peter Berg in the outstanding ‘Patriots Day,’ audiences are being treated to a hopeful franchise starter in the purely fictional “Mile 22.”
(Bergs other films, like “Day” have focused on real life events, “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon” among them).
In what appears like recycled parts from those flicks, in “Mile 22” Wahlberg plays super soldier John Silva, a supposed ‘lethal weapon of force,’ that’s highly trained and capable of anything (he also slaps a wristband to help calm his nerves). Except, Wahlberg seems to take a backseat to most of the action this time around.
Silva runs with an elite task force, created and designed to infiltrate terrorist organizations and prevent attacks before they happen. Using a vast arsenal of heavy artillery, and a crew that consists of a tough-as-nails Laurie Cohen, MMA boxer Ronda Rousey, and a scruffy John Malkovich - they’re latest job involves the transport of Li Noor (Iko Uwais who is the real star of this movie) a whistleblower that holds the combination to the last known whereabouts of cesium, a chemical component that could level an entire city.
Li is seeking asylum via the United States, in lieu of his information, but first he needs to get there in one piece (the total duration is, you guessed it, 22 miles). The film than sprawls into a race against the clock thriller, as every second that ticks buy, the cesium gets closer to the end game. Grenades and bullets fly, in what is a fast-moving actioner which doesn't have much to say in regards to a consistent tone of plot.
It certainly requires your attention and that’s something respectful about Berg as a filmmaker; is that even when he’s working with half the budget, he finds ways to make other elements work in his favor (for example, Uwasis gets in a bedside throw-down with a pair of thugs, all while handcuffed to his hospital bed and it represents the best energy and style this film has). Like that sequence, most of the violence is fast, loose and brutal. Hardly ever showing control (which is an issue that Berg never seems to correct) kinda like the poor man’s Michael Bay.
As a result, “Mile 22” cooks and builds to a mildly convoluted, but earned climax that chucks a few absurd surprises at the door as you leave. And if your head isn’t spinning from all the ho-hum action cliches, it shouldn’t be hard to see past what Berg is selling.
Just don’t go digging for a plot that’s coherent, because you won’t find one.