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Dan's Review: Destination not worth the trip to "Mile 22"

Aug 19, 2018 02:59PM ● Published by Dan Metcalf

Mark Wahlberg in Mile 22 - © 2018 STX Entertainment.

Mile 22 (STX Entertainment)

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

Starring Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Carlo Alban, Terry Kinney, Poorna Jagannathan, Sam Medina, Alexandra Vino, Cedric Gervais, CL, Emily Skeggs, Peter Berg.

Written by Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland.

Directed by Peter Berg.

GRADE: C+

REVIEW:

Decent spy thrillers are hard to come by these days. There are a few that still hold our attention and are tied to successful franchises like James Bond or Mission: Impossible. The Bourne series ran its course but fizzled out, and now we are left with a string of mostly forgettable standalone features. Peter Berg’s Mile 22 was set up as the beginning of another spy film franchise, and it has all the looks of being successful, including a major star (Mark Wahlberg) and an intriguing cast of characters.

Wahlberg plays James Silva, a brilliant but mentally unstable team leader of “Overwatch,” a clandestine strike team that operates outside official intelligence agencies. Silva and his team are looked over by “Mother” (John Malkovich) via temporary remote operation command posts via satellite. “Mother” and his team use drones and other high tech to direct Silva (code-named “Child”) and his trained killers carry out any dirty work that comes their way. The team includes Alice (Lauren Cohan, Sam (Ronda Rousey) and William (Carlo Alban). When Silva’s team takes down a Russian spy ring in a suburban U.S. neighborhood. A few months later Overwatch is called to Indonesia, where they are tracking another plot to send enriched nuclear material to several cities across the globe. While tracking the enemy, an Overwatch informant and Indonesian police officer name Li Noor (Iko Uwais) turns himself in at the embassy, carrying a computer drive he claims holds all the intelligence they need to locate and mitigate all the nukes. But the Indonesian government, led by a dark operative named Axel (Sam Medina) is out to kill Noor who refuses to give Silva the code to unlock the computer drive, unless they give him refuge in the U.S. It’s up to Silva and his team to get the double agent to an airstrip 22 miles outside the city while combatting several Indonesian troops. Along the way, several battles take place, killing off most members of the team and countless Indonesian combatants. Silva must trust Noor (who’s pretty deadly himself) to help in the escape to the airstrip before their plane leaves and computer drive self-destructs. When the survivors reach their destination, Noor has a little surprise for everyone, including Mother and his team.

Mile 22 is long on style and even longer on preachy monologues about geopolitics, espionage, and ethical foreign relations (a Peter Berg staple of sorts). Most of the movie is devoted to Wahlberg riffing about how much the world needs secret killing forces so that we can all sleep at night (something akin to “you need me on that wall.”). The rest of the movie is one deadly battle scene after another, followed by more monologues and a lot of tough guy posturing from Wahlberg, laced with obscenities. I guess we’re supposed to forgive Silva for any ethical concerns, because he says so.

Then, there’s the ending, which includes a “made-for-Wahlberg” punch line that seems perhaps a little too silly for the format. The plot twist is also a little uncomfortable, as if all the speeches about killing in the name of national security meant nothing.

The action scenes are dramatic and tense, and the Overwatch team shows a little chemistry, but since most of them die, you have to wonder where all this is going. The plan was to make Mile 22 into another spy franchise, but I’m not sure there’s enough left (other than Wahlberg’s tough guy) to salvage anything substantial.

It’s tough to build a spy franchise when you 1) bait and switch the audience and 2) kill off some of the more interesting characters.

If Mile 22 does well overseas, we might see a sequel, but it doesn’t look good at this point.


Mile 22 Trailer

Arts+Entertainment movies movie reviews Espionage

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