On paper, Mile 22 sounds like a very solid action flick. It’s directed by Peter Berg (Hancock, Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day), stars Mark Wahlberg in their fourth collaboration together, The Walking Dead‘s Lauren Cohan, The Raid (one of the greatest action films of all time)’s Iko Uwais, MMA fighter Ronda Rousey (who’s surprisingly decent), and national treasure John Malkovich. Mile 22 is about an elite American intelligence agency named ‘Overwatch’, who are “dedicated to a higher form of patriotism” (yeesh). Led by James Silva (Wahlberg), they engage in extremely covert and violent missions on behalf of the government, and their mission in this film is to escort a valuable asset (Uwais) 22 miles through hostile territory to reach an extraction point. The asset has the password to a file that contains the location of some nuclear weaponry, stuff that is “Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined!”, Wahlberg tells the presumably dumb audience. It’s an incredibly simple plot, and thus should be easy enough to put together onscreen.
Apparently, it’s not. There is a lot to dislike about Mile 22, so let’s just start listing its crimes. Wahlberg’s James Silva is a horrendous protagonist. We’re told through an opening montage that he was an incredibly gifted child, but that his mind works too quickly for his own good. He has a character quirk where he snaps a rubber band on his wrist to calm himself down / keep himself in check, and so the audience is subjected to a shot and the sound of this every other minute in the film. Obviously, it gets annoying very quickly. Silva gets up in people’s faces and talks rapidly and condescendingly, always trying to prove that he’s the smartest person in the room, and maybe in another movie this would be enjoyable, but here it just makes him instantly dislikeable. All of his quips are unfunny, and the movie cuts to an interview with him every five minutes where he’s ranting and rambling incoherent nonsense about violence, patriotism, governments, higher powers, election meddling, collusion, you name it. There doesn’t seem to be any real point to it expect to try and trick the, again, presumably dumb audience into believing that Silva is some kind of badass genius. He’s not. Silva is just an obnoxious asshole who’s antics are, at best, exhausting, and at worst, offensive.
Lauren Cohan’s character drops the f-bomb every ten seconds just to remind you that you’re watching a serious, R-rated film and that women can be badass and vulgar too, I guess. Groundbreaking. We barely know a single one of the characters in this movie, and the big names get the thinnest of backstories (Wahlberg has no family, Cohan does). So when a member of the team gets killed and the film tries to play it like it’s a big deal, it’s downright laughable (Oh no! Not that guy I didn’t know anything about! He had more than three minutes of screen time!). The film casts Ronda Rousey (a couple of years too late, but whatever) and then bizarrely doesn’t give her a single fight scene. She does grab a guy and throw him to the ground once, so there’s that. Uwais gets one cool fight scene where he’s handcuffed to a bed and fights off a group of assassins, but other than that he’s wasted. He does seem to be the only one having any kind of fun in the movie, but all it does is make you wish you were watching The Raid instead. Seriously, skip this and just go watch that.
The worst of Mile 22 is its editing, which looks like it was done by the Tasmanian Devil, if the Tasmanian Devil was addicted to meth. It’s incredibly jarring, with rapid-fire cuts happening every two seconds, even when it’s just a scene of two people talking. The thing just won’t calm down, and it’s at its worst during the action scenes, which kind of ruins the only thing that this movie might have had going for it. There is absolutely no way of knowing what’s going on, who’s fighting who, who’s shooting what. Peter Berg seems content to just zoom in on people and shake the camera in every direction. Voila! An intense action scene! It’s truly terrible to attempt to watch, and Berg can do better.
Mile 22 feels like something that was shot in a week and then cut together in an afternoon. It’s confusing, spastic, messy, boring, and has some weird conservative undercurrent throughout. The control center of Overwatch, for some reason, decorates their work station with bobbleheads of every single United States president. In the middle of all the nonsensical, conspiracy-laden Info Wars mumbling, we’re treated to a shot of the Donald Trump bobblehead being placed directly next to the Obama one, complete with a MAGA hat. The shot lingers, and it’s very unclear if it’s something that’s supposed to be played for laughs or something else. I guess it doesn’t really matter. If you’re going to see a movie this weekend, your money is much better off being spent on Crazy Rich Asians or Alpha. Take a pass on this mess.
1.5 / 5 Stars
Mile 22 is, unfortunately, now playing in theaters everywhere.