TL;DR – This is a film that fails at almost everything it sets out to do bar maybe one or two decent action sequences
Score – 1.5 out of 5 stars
Post-Credit Scene – There is no post-credit scene
I really enjoy action films, I appreciate the skill that has gone into the fight choreography, the explosions, and gunfights, brawls, all of it. While films that are about something are better for incorporating those themes, I don’t think it is necessarily barrier to enjoy an action film if the craft is there. This week I had not been feeling the best so I thought I would go see Mile 22 as I kind of pick me up, and well the fact I was the only one in the cinema should have been the first clue that this was not going to go as planned.
So to set the scene, we open on James Silva’s (Mark Wahlberg) Overwatch team as they infiltrate a Russian foreign intelligence safe house in America. Overwatch is a team put together by key CIA operatives as a Black Ops initiative so America can get their hands dirty and engage in practices that they would not normally be able to do, but if it all goes wrong there is plausible deniability. Well as agents Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), William Douglas (Carlo Alban), and Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) secure the house and subdue the occupants it all goes to pot when a someone hiding in a secret room attacks Alice and the whole thing turns into a shooting gallery. It is at this point that the commander of the Overwatch team Mother (John Malkovich) gives the order to clean house and leave no survivors. Maybe if they had brought a Bastion with them they would have had a bit more firepower, but having your Widowmaker being outside and not in the line of sight probably didn’t help either. Well 16 months later in Indochan the hunt for some of the missing caesium suffers a setback with a source Li Noor (Iko Uwais) giving bad information. Only now he has arrived at the embassy with a deal, get him out of the country in 8 hours and he will give you the location of the rest of the caesium. Which is all well as good, and the airfield is just 22 Miles away, so what could go wrong?
Okay, a lot could go wrong, but we will get to that in a moment. From the review score, I think you know I am going to be really critical about this film, and for good reason. However, before we get there I do want to talk about one small shining light in all the chaos and that is Iko Uwais. He is an amazing martial artist and fight choreographer, and in those one or two scenes where they let him do his thing, it is astounding to watch. Indeed, there is a scene where he is handcuffed to a gurney wearing only his briefs when he is attacked by assassins. In this sequence, we get hints of some of Jackie Chan’s early work and I wish I could be more positive with the film but there is not much else to be positive about.
To start with the world building in this film is a complete mess, to the point I don’t think they had any idea what they were doing half the time. In my screening here in Australia I am sure that location for most of the film was called ‘Indochan City: South East Asia”, however the Wiki article states it was set in Indonesia, and I have had others tell me the saw it set in Indochina, and I would not be surprised if all of these happened to be true. They were clearly going for Indonesia given the language people were speaking, but it is also clear that no one here on the production team has ever visited South East Asia before. To begin with, it was clear from the first overhead shot that this was not filmed in Asia (it was actually filmed in Columbia) and that is fine, cities stand in for other cities all the time, but you know there is usually at least a half-assed effort to do some kind of set dressing. Indeed the only thing we do see here is they have digitally added some Korean Hangul to some of the skyscrapers adding to the confusing mess. Also, most films would at least through in a line about the government using foreign mercenaries to explain why the stunt team is mostly Latin American rather than from South East Asia.
Now let’s look at the characters and even here they are a mess. Okay, can I say this so the people in Hollywood greenlighting scripts can hear this loud and clear “JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE ON THE AUTISTIC SPECTRUM DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE OF A HUMAN BEING”. I mean come on it is 2018 and if you are going to crib notes from The Accountant (see review) at least steal the things about character development that don’t make you lead to become an insufferable dick. Indeed, this is just the start of the poor characterisation. We have Alice who the film can’t decide if she is a consummate professional or someone who falls into an emotional mess by the mere mention of her ex-husband’s name. We have Ronda Rousey cast in the film and then the film does absolutely nothing with her to the point you have to ask why did you cast someone with her experience in an action film if you were not going to let that shine. The story was both a mess and also deeply predictable. [SPOILERS] From the second that the newscast really rammed home that the kid was only 18, well you knew what was in that locket. Indeed, it also didn’t make any sense like are you telling me that the secret headquarters of one of the government’s most important covert ops facility had no security, or at least one person checking the outside cameras? Or that they would assassinate the whole operation but lead the head person alive, or … look I could go on but you get the drift. Also while we are here, and this is from some who does not mind shaky camera in films like The Bourne Ultimatum, but for goodness sake use a tripod. Indeed it is also clear that no one here knows how nuclear weapons work, in any way shape and form. The whole time I was watching this film I was being reminded of films the filmmakers were inspired clearly from, however, those we much better films and instead all it had me doing was wishing I was watching The Raid or Dredd than this drivel.
In the end, do we recommend Mile 22? No. Save your money folks and spend it on something that put some effort in.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Mile 22
Directed by – Peter Berg
Screenplay by – Lea Carpenter
Story by – Graham Roland & Lea Carpenter
Music by – Jeff Russo
Cinematography by – Jacques Jouffret
Edited by – Colby Parker Jr. & Melissa Lawson Cheung
Starring – Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan, Ronda Rousey, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Carlo Alban, Terry Kinney, Poorna Jagannathan, Sam Medina, Alexandra Vino, Cedric Gervais, CL, Emily Skeggs & Peter Berg
Rating – Australia: MA15+; Canada: 14A; Germany: 16; New Zealand: R; United Kingdom: 18; United States: R