Directed by Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinario.
Starring Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen and Clint Dyer.
After aborting his mission, an army sniper is stranded in the middle of the desert. One small movement could kill him, so he has to fight against the elements and the psychological toll of the conditions simply to stay alive.
After a lumpy few years that included The Lone Ranger and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. things seem to be looking up for Armie Hammer. Solid performances in Nocturnal Animals and The Birth Of Nation were followed by Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire and he’s set to be re-united with the director in Freakshift. That’s on top of as many as another four films set for release this year.
Despite getting a cinema outing in the States, Mine has gone straight to DVD in the UK. And it’s a film with Hammer’s name all over it. The film’s executive producer as well as its star, he’s never off the screen from start to finish, so his performance is crucial to its success – or otherwise.
The idea of pitching a lone man against the elements is a familiar one – The Revenant, All Is Lost – although here the deadliest problem faced by Hammer’s military sniper is decidedly man made. On a mission to assassinate a terrorist leader, Mike (Hammer) baulks at the last minute as it would mean killing the man on his wedding day. But, with their cover blown, he and fellow Marine, Tommy (Tom Cullen), flee into the desert. They shake off their pursuers, but inadvertently stray into a mine field and Mike finds himself alone, with his left foot on top of a landmine. Moving that foot could kill him and, when he radios for help, he’s told the earliest a rescue mission can arrive is in 52 hours.
All of which means enduring hours in the blistering sun and almost as many in the freezing cold nights, fighting off wolves and battling against a vicious sand storm. But he still keeps that left foot firmly on the spot. His life literally depends on it.
By itself, it’s enough of a premise for the film, the fascination coming from watching the highly trained Marin up against the worst that the natural world can throw at him. It needs little or no dialogue, just an actor capable of playing the role with every fibre of his being, speaking through the smallest of gestures or expressions. Hammer doesn’t quite reach that level, but he shows he can carry a demanding role and shoulder the film on his own.
So why writers/directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinario were determined to include an extensive backstory for the character is, frankly, baffling. The film doesn’t need such a superfluous distraction, especially when it’s as predictable and mawkish as this. It takes most of the running time to unravel the story and it doesn’t have the clout to be worth the effort. The same applies to the clumsy philosophy, which is so heavy handed that it’s laid out on a plate for use. Mike is literally told that “every day could be your last step.” Just in case we hadn’t got the message.
However, Hammer manages to hold on to our attention. Sometimes it’s because he hardly appears to sweat in such relentless heat, but mostly it’s because of a performance that’s both physical and psychological, one that sells us the idea of his predicament being both real and deadly. If only the rest of the film had done something similar. As it is, there’s little about Mine that’s explosive. It’s more of a whimper.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★