Mile 22, 2018.
Directed by Peter Berg.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich and Ronda Rousey.
A top CIA operative and his unit are transporting a “package”, ie a double agent, who can provide access to life-threatening information to safety. But there are numerous enemies out there standing in their way.
The Wahlberg/Berg combo has become such an established partnership that you more or less know what you’re going to get long before you’ve purchased your ticket. Not that they’re wholly predictable: Patriots Day wasn’t the all-action extravaganza we expect from them, Lone Survivor was. So where does Mile 22 fit in? The short answer is at the bottom.
While you might not anticipate having to plug in your brain for one of their productions, this is one where you can quite happily leave it outside the door, or at least disconnect it for an hour and a half. It’s mindless stuff, taking its central idea from the 2006 Bruce Willis movie, 16 Blocks, where The Balding One attempted to move criminal Mos Def through the sixteen blocks of the title to safety. This is in much the same vein, but with a lot more gunfire, martial arts and general violence.
It does, however, differ from the usual Wahlberg/Berg fare in that it’s not based on true events and clearly suffers as a result. The narrative is jumpy, confusing and difficult to follow, taking the entire first half to start getting close to the meat of the story, which culminates in the chase to the airstrip where the “package” will, in theory, be in safe hands.
Yet, despite all these shortcomings, STX have already announced this is the first of a trilogy and the sequel is already being written. Clearly a lukewarm reception at the American box office and equally tepid reviews don’t count for anything. But this is a franchise on shaky ground, so episodes two and three will have to do a whole lot better, especially where Wahlberg’s character is concerned. He’s the last man standing, so it’s his origins story – and not a great one. He’s less than sympathetic, with zero people skills, and it makes for a one-note, headache inducing performance as he continually rants at speed at anybody within hearing distance.
Worse still, the whole film is desperately predictable and you don’t have to think very hard to fathom out what’s going on. For instance, the bad guys come from Russia. Where else would they come from? But they’re as unconvincing as the rest of the cast and the story itself. And all that violence – there’s several prolonged fight scenes, with an emphasis on body stretching martial arts – doesn’t make up for the excitement that the film lacks elsewhere. It just goes on and on, making just over ninety minutes seem a whole lot longer, and the only question is how long it will take for you to start checking your watch.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ / Movie ★
Freda Cooper. Follow me on Twitter.