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Review: Mile 22 (2018)

Mile 22 (2018)

Directed by: Peter Beg

Premise: An elite tactical unit working out of the United States’ embassy in Indonesia must escort an informant out the country. They caravan toward an airfield while under fire by that country’s paramilitary force.

What Works: Lauren Cohan makes a strong impression in Mile 22 as one of the members of the tactical team. Cohan plays the only genuine character in this movie; she is a professional soldier but she also has meaningful moments with the other members of the squad. She is also a mother going through a divorce. Cohan brings a combination of toughness and vulnerability to the part and she is the one person in the film who is relatable. Mile 22 really ought to have centered upon Cohen’s character. If it had, this might have been a better movie.

What Doesn’t: Mile 22 reunites filmmaker Peter Berg with actor Mark Wahlberg. The two have worked together before on Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriot’s Day. Their collaborations have resulted in some of Berg and Wahlberg’s best movies and so it is a disappointment to find that Mile 22 is so lousy. Just about everything goes wrong in this film. Mile 22 is primarily an action movie but a lot of the set pieces are indecipherable. Berg is a filmmaker who has pushed the threshold of frantic camerawork but in his better films, namely Deepwater Horizon and The Kingdom, the action always maintained a delicate coherence. It was always clear who was doing what and where the characters were going. The action of Mile 22 is so chaotic that it just becomes a cacophony of gunshots and car crashes. The narrative is similarly all over the place. The events are presented out of sequence with the story periodically flashing forward to Mark Wahlberg’s character in a debriefing. His commentary doesn’t clarify anything and it interrupts the pacing of the film. The story of Mile 22 is unnecessarily complicated. The film initially presents itself as a gauntlet; the tactical team must escort an informant from the American consulate to an airstrip while fighting off assassination attempts. But then the film goes off in other directions with a subplot about Russian espionage that clutters the movie and zaps the immediacy of the premise. With the exception of Lauren Cohan’s role, the characters of Mile 22 are not engaging or interesting. We don’t know who these people are nor do they have character defining moments that would give the movie some kind of dramatic impact. Mark Wahlberg is especially terrible. That’s a surprise since Mile 22 is the kind of film that is Wahlberg’s bread and butter. Wahlberg’s character is depicted as being on the spectrum but that’s done poorly and it doesn’t add anything to the picture. Thematically, Mile 22 seems to be reaching for something profound about international relations, diplomacy, and combat but whatever this film is trying to say is at best half-baked and at worst a simplistically cynical rationale for unrestrained warfare.

Bottom Line: Virtually nothing about Mile 22 is done well. The film is a mishmash of gun fights and pseudo-philosophical nonsense that isn’t very entertaining and is underscored by a stupid and neo-fascistic world view.

Episode: #713 (August 26, 2018)