Review – Mark Wahlberg is even more smug than usual in ‘Mile 22’

Poster for 2018 action thriller Mile 22

Genre: Action
Certificate: 18
UK Release Date: 19th September 2018
Runtime: 94 minutes
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Lea Carpenter
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Carlo Alban, Poorna Jagannathan
Synopsis: A super-secret branch of the US government is tasked with transporting a highly valuable agent, with knowledge of the whereabouts of material that could lead to a devastating terrorist attack.

 

 

Mark Wahlberg is currently best known for being the owner of the most absurd, baffling and troubling daily routine on the planet. He’s a man who claims to wake up at 2:30am and go to bed at 7:30pm, spending a combined two hours in the shower and two and a half hours snacking in between. The madness of that schedule is far more interesting than anything that happens in Mile 22, which is Wahlberg’s fourth collaboration with director Peter Berg. Having depicted real life tragedy for three movies that are varying degrees of decent, Mile 22 goes fully fictional and fully off the rails as a bland thriller that is watchable only as a result of one performer.

It won’t be a surprise to learn that Wahlberg is not that performer. He plays Silva and leads the black ops team Overwatch, which includes divorced mother Alice (Lauren Cohan) and utter badass Sam (Ronda Rousey). Their operations are overseen by their leader Bishop (John Malkovich), who watches from an observation room decorated by bobble heads depicting the recent US presidents. There’s even an adorable mini Trump with a tiny MAGA cap. The hands are real size.

The actor who rescues the film is Iko Uwais – star of The Raid and its sequel. Uwais is an action legend in the making, just as capable of handling the acting weight as he is of punching and kicking his way through the fight scenes. The only reason Mile 22 works at all is that there are plenty of moments in which Uwais gets the chance to showcase his innovation, skill and straight-up brutality.

Unfortunately, there’s a whole movie around Uwais and there’s not a lot about it that’s exciting. Wahlberg is an immensely infuriating central presence. His character’s main quirk is that his brain works super fast, so he has to do a blank jigsaw – seriously – or snap an elastic band against his wrist to keep himself centred and calm. This enhanced intelligence never plays into his character’s approach to the action, though, which mainly consists of yelling needlessly at his female companions and waving guns around. Indeed, the film as a whole is mostly just 90 minutes of people being shot in the head.

That perhaps does the plot a disservice, though Lea Carpenter’s script is a convoluted and tangled mess that never seems to pay off the various narrative threads it brings into play. In particular, the framing device of Wahlberg discussing the operation at a debriefing never comes to anything and simply serves to rob the narrative of any tension while Wahlberg delivers over-written platitudes in wobbly close-ups. There’s also an unpleasant run of smug, blokey humour to it all that never lands, particularly in one scene in which multiple characters try to diagnose Wahlberg’s character with various mental illnesses. Hilarious, obviously.

The most notable failure of Mile 22 is simply that it never raises the pulse. There’s a device in the movie whereby Malkovich’s character can monitor his team’s heart rates and blood pressure via a computer screen in order to assess their health and whether they’re in danger. One suspects that if a similar device were deployed to monitor an audience watching this movie, the most notable finding would be the number of people who slipped away into the world of sleep. I nearly joined them.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Poop!

There’s nothing particularly rage-inducing about Mile 22, which is mostly just a very ordinary, by-the-numbers action movie made a little more disappointing by the fact it marks a low point for the usually reliable Wahlberg-Berg collaboration. However, it is almost worth a watch for Iko Uwais and his mad flurries of punches and kicks. Or you could just watch The Raid instead. In fact, do that.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

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