Originally planned as an action vehicle for wrestler-turned-actress Ronda Rousey and Indonesian stunt professional Iko Uwais before being reshuffled as a Mark Wahlberg vehicle, Mile 22‘s production history is the most interesting aspect of this by-the-numbers actioner courtesy of director Peter Berg.
Marking the fourth collaboration between Berg and Wahlberg (the duo having previously worked together on Lone Survivor in 2013 and 2016’s Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day), Mile 22 has clearly been designed to kickstart a franchise of sorts (sequel plans were announced before the film even debuted in cinemas) but it could be all over before it’s had a chance to begin as this hardly ranks as a worthwhile vehicle in its own right, let alone a strong enough project to launch a series.
Whilst Berg proves capable of staging an action sequence or two, Mile 22 offers up very little of note outside his excessive combat scenes, with Wahlberg’s James Silva quite possibly being the most laborious “hero” 2018 cinemas has had the (dis)pleasure of subjecting us to. Whilst it could be noted that Wahlberg, working off a script from novelist Lea Carpenter, is at least attempting something different in his character archetype (we’re informed he has ADHD throughout the opening credits), his endless monologues all feel a little too self-entitled.
Outside of Silva’s ramblings, the story on hand revolves around an elite CIA unit who are tasked with transporting an Indonesian street cop, Li Noor (Uwais), to a safety zone that’s 22 miles from their current location. Along said stretch of distance the team (namely Wahlberg, a downgraded Rousey, Lauren Cohan, and John Malkovich as their handler) are consistently ambushed as Li’s knowledge of where shipments of weaponised cesium are make him a valuable asset, and therefore a locked target.
At 95 minutes Mile 22 doesn’t have much time to bog itself down with unnecessary exposition – it gives it a good crack though – and when the action strikes (and it strikes quite often) it’s relentless, which in turn laces the film with a temporary air of excitement; it’s easy to forget how hollow the film is when you’re watching the impressive physique and prowess of Uwais in full force. Relentless as it is though, Mile 22 doesn’t offer us anything we haven’t seen before, with even a brutal combat scene between Cohan and a nameless opponent of hulking proportions feeling like a re-visit to a set-up Jennifer Garner faced in the Berg-directed The Kingdom from 2007.
Likely to satisfy action junkies on an escapism level, Mile 22 doesn’t develop enough of a personality to sustain the interest needed to invest beyond surface-level aesthetics, even if a late-in-the-game plot twist (which is admittedly quite a captivating stunt) promises adventures of a more compelling narrative arc.
About Mile 22
An elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country.
Mile 22 (MA15+) is screening in Australian cinemas from August 30th 2018