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article imageReview: ‘Mile 22’ is a flawed but rewarding tactical operation Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Aug 17, 2018 in Entertainment
‘Mile 22’ is an action-heavy, spy picture in which there are multiple ticking clocks, broad daylight shootouts in the street and an ending that makes it all worth it.
While popular genres and interests come and go in waves, there appears to be a current focus on elite military personnel. These men and women carryout covert missions, supported by the best technology and often under the agreement that if caught, they do not exist. TV series and films have been tapping into this fount of gritty and riveting stories, both fiction and non-, for a few years now. Mile 22 is the latest, which turns 16 Blocks into a military operation on foreign soil that requires the transporters cover a little more ground.
Sixteen months earlier, James Silva’s (Mark Wahlberg) team carried out a mission in a suburban neighbourhood that left one of his team dead along with all the insurgents. They were aided by Overwatch, an elite and top-secret tactical team that assembles as necessary to facilitate operations from a distant, secure location. Now Silva is in a Southeast Asian country, trying to recover enough stolen cesium to take out mass populations. Their source, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), knows the location of the chemical, but is holding the information hostage on a self-destructing drive in exchange for his safe passage to America. They’re on the clock, but local authorities with unlimited resources are blocking their path to the airstrip. With Overwatch’s near-omnipotence, Silva needs to deliver the informant and recover the cesium. But what are the Russians monitoring in their large surveillance craft?
This movie touches on a number of styles and genres to tell its story. It’s an espionage thriller with Noor acting as the double-agent, betraying his country in exchange for his own security. There’s a lot of hacking and deception involved in making his request a reality, as well as trying to work around his conditions to stop the terrorists’ plot. It sometimes takes on the appearance of a first-person shooter game as images are occasionally shown through strategically placed surveillance cameras and team members are equipped with a vitals sensor that viewers watch go flat as they’re killed in action. Then there’s the action part of this movie that has Wahlberg running around with a big gun and Uwais taking out his attackers with extraordinary hand-to-hand fighting skills… unfortunately the latter doesn’t have the staggering impact of The Raid’s sequences due to its poor cinematography/editing that is too close and quick to allow the choreography to speak for itself.
Director Peter Berg and Wahlberg have a history with this being the fourth picture they’ve made together. Regrettably, this isn’t necessarily a project on which the two should’ve collaborated. Wahlberg does well in the action sequences and delivering the unexpected but eventually tolerable one-liners; but, since his character is a sort of savant, he goes on long monologues about the minutia of topics that the actor isn’t quite capable of delivering. Uwais, on the other hand, plays to his strong suits and delivers a respectable performance in his feature North American role. Ronda Rousey makes her first big screen appearance, but she’s a bit too stiff even for a hardened military woman. The rest of the cast, which includes Lauren Cohan and John Malkovich, is good and helps carry the picture forward to its remarkably laudable conclusion.
Director: Peter Berg
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan and Iko Uwais
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