Mile 22 movie review: The Mark Wahlberg film is all style, little substance

Mile 22 movie review: Iko Uwais holds his own despite the star power, muscular presence, and the amateur geopolitical chatter of old-hand Mark Wahlberg.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Shalini Langer | New Delhi | Updated: August 25, 2018 12:26:14 am
Mile 2 review Mark Wahlberg Mile 2 movie review: Mile 22 borrows liberally from The Raid.

Mile 22 movie cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich
Mile 22 movie director: Peter Berg
Mile 22 movie rating: 1.5 stars

In 2011, Indonesian star Iko Uwais burst onto the scene with a film (The Raid: Redemption) centred around a single building complex, where his rookie special squad officer had to fight a ganglord’s army to make his way all the way up past layers of apartments and floors. Uwais had charisma and presence, apart from obvious expertise in the Indonesian martial arts the film showcased. The Raid itself was taut and engaging, right up to the end, despite that greedy promise of a sequel.

Mile 22 borrows liberally, bringing in: a) Ukais, who holds his own despite the star power, muscular presence, and the amateur geopolitical chatter of old-hand Wahlberg; b) an apartment complex, where bad guys are chasing the good guys (though, the film drills in, there are none of those); c) martial arts, which the film decides to use anyway given that Uwais is on the rolls, though he has no business being so good at it unless he is not what he says he is (a point no one notices); and d) the hint of a sequel.

But Hollywood being Hollywood, and Berg being Berg (Hancock, The Kingdom, among other things), the battlefield can’t be just a building. It must involve the CIA, black ops, some Russians and, once we have gone down that path, some country in ‘South Asia’ with a city called ‘Indocarr’ (you can be pretty sure all this is Indonesia), which is but a playground for ‘The Great Game’ to play out. Wahlberg’s Silva uses that term, ‘The Great Game’, several times, just in case we miss out the big picture here. But all it amounts to really is taking Uwais’s Li, a lowly cop of this unknown country, to safety, so that he can tell the location of a radioactive powder that has gone missing.

The 22 miles in the film’s title is the distance the elite US squad headed by Wahlberg — so elite that they have to resign before every mission, so as to be “ghosts” in government records — has to travel from the US Embassy, where Li takes refuge, to an airstrip, from where Li can be flown to safety. On way, they are chased by Russians from the sky, and goons on the ground.

Silva, we are told, was hyperactive as a child, had anger issues, was ‘unlike other children’, and then lost his family in an accident — all of it apparently put him on course to being in an extra-judicial squad. Silva’s deputy is the super-efficient Alice (Cohan), but in her case the film is at pains to point out that she is a loving mother. The head of their squad is Malkovich, just known as ‘Bishop’, for moving his men like pawns on a chessboard, literally (‘The Great Game’, remember?). It is good money for doing little more than muttering Malkovich-style peering at satellite images, which track every move the squad makes. These are beamed from monitors where US presidents feature as bobble-head dolls. There is Donald Trump (who features also in person, once, shaking Kim Jong-il’s hands) but also Barack Obama.

And still Russians inveigle their way in. Somehow. Want an explanation? The film has one. In course of his many psycho-babble sessions, generally slamming powers that be, while signing up for operations requiring “a higher form of patriotism”, Silva jeers that “election hacking, collusion…. you think you know everything (well something along those lines)… You know nothing.”

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