Film: Mile 22
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich
Rating: 1.5/5 stars
In one of the best action sequences in Mile 22, an actor, handcuffed to a hospital bed, performs some unbelievable stunts to eliminate two assailants and ends up with a bloodied torso while towering over their mutilated bodies. You'd think the actor would be Mark Wahlberg, who gets top billing as both the film's producer and the hot-headed protagonist James Silva, but director Peter Berg has completely different ideas.
The actor in question is Indonesian stunt-choreographer and martial artist Iko Uwais, who delivers the film's best stunts, says the best lines and basically, does everything a hero is supposed to. However, he plays Li Noor, a rogue cop who turns up at the US Embassy in an unnamed Asian country seeking asylum in return for providing the details about some missing Caesium, which in Wahlberg's words, "makes Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like a picnic."
Wahlberg's Silva is the head of operations of a motley group of highly-skilled operatives who are entrusted to protect Li and take him into American custody by delivering him to an airstrip 22 miles from the embassy. Wahlberg's team are helped in this 22-mile journey by a group called 'Overwatch', which acts as a Big Brother of sorts and uses CCTV cameras, drones to keep an eye on Silva's crew and even blows up stuff from remote locations.
We all know that a smooth transfer is certainly not on the cards, especially when there are frequent cuts to a group of Russians on a plane who say things like, "They will face something bigger than death. They will know to fear us again."
Silva and his team are subject to debilitating attacks orchestrated by bigwigs of the local government, who threaten him to return Li to them or face the consequences. Silva, then delivers one of his many monologues, all uninspired, and proceeds on the mission to face the said consequences.
While dialogues are not this film's best friend, what works well are the stunt sequences filmed in extremely cramped locations, like hospital rooms or the corridors of a residential complex or the inside of a cafe. Most of the action relies on hand-to-hand combat and the only person not featuring in any of these beautifully orchestrated sequences is Wahlberg.
Uwais is involved in some pacy, bone-crunching, arms-contorting action coupled with slow-motion shots. Walking Dead-fame Lauren Cohen, who plays one of the members of Wahlberg's elite squad, gets a better deal than others, including MMA fighter-turned-actor Ronda Rousey, who are just given the staple 'one action sequence or one badass dialogue' that is often earmarked for the squad members who don't feature in the top five end credits listing.
All Wahlberg does in this film, apart from funding it, is mouth some long-winded dialogues and frequently snap a rubber band on his wrist to keep his anger in check - an anger that is a result of his brain working too fast because he is a genius of sorts. In hindsight, it makes sense that he funded this film because not many would buy him as a genius with a short fuse.
Mile 22 is filled with well-shot explosions, gruesome killings, counter-terrorism initiatives and more importantly, its repercussions, but heavily misses out on a coherent plot. The film ends with a hook to a sequel, and one hopes Wahlberg gets to do more than just talk in it.