Mile 22 marks the fourth collaboration between director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg. For the first three efforts, Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day the results were relatively positive. Each featured solid performances hoisted by fascinating stories about true life events. Now, with Mile 22 we have this regression to a lesser form of action that I had hoped was wiped out by films like John Wick and Atomic Blonde to just name two. Yes, it’s the dreaded return of hyperactive editing and vomit inducing shaky-cam. Think Taken 2 & 3 for reference. And that’s just part of the problem here.
I can say that by the end I wasn’t wholly disappointed or completely unentertained but I wasn’t overly thrilled either. The best I can say for this movie is that it’s just… fine, I guess. It could have been a fun action film with its unrelenting pace and straight-to-the-point plot but for some reason they tried to insert a more political angle into the mix and despite the fast pace it felt held up, slowed down. It was a lot of unnecessary filler that still only amounted to a runtime of ninety-five minutes and that’s including end credit time. There just isn’t much here beyond the failed attempt at a political message (if you can call it that) and an inordinate amount of bullets flying and explosions exploding.
If the editing and shaky-cam wasn’t exhausting enough there’s Mark Wahlberg himself. More accurately put it’s his portrayal of a man with heightened intelligence and a serious disdain for wasted time or effort. Because of his impatience and intelligence we get a man that is absolutely unbearable to be around. My greatest disappointment with this character is that no one tells him even once to shut the fuck up! After listening to one of his numerous rants about incoherent babble you need a nap. While it can be funny at times for myself it was downright daunting to endure him and his character traits. They try to explain his behavior by bringing up certain mood disorders or mental health issues but I think one particular character summed up Wahlberg’s character quite sufficiently with one quick sentence, “He’s just an asshole.” Mystery solved.
I’ve mentioned it twice now but let’s really get into it, the camera work. In particular the editing and shaky-cam primarily during the action sequences of which this film is comprised 90% of from start to finish. It’s atrocious and I had thought outdated. An edit every two seconds as the camera shakes incessantly as if to hide poor stunt work. This is my biggest issue with Mile 22, the sad attempt of filming action. There is a large portion of the action that features hand-to-hand combat between The Raid and The Raid 2 alum Iko Uwais who also acted as stunt coordinator for Mile 22 and the faceless horde of bad guys. If you’ve seen this man in action in The Raid 1 & 2 then you know he doesn’t need shaky-cam or fast editing to hide his stunt work. This man is a beast in front of the camera and a wide angle would have showcased this beautifully. He knows what he’s doing in this department and Berg and company took every effort to conceal that fact. It doesn’t make sense and instead of watching in awe at this man’s abilities I was left firmly out of the film wondering why they chose this antiquated “style” of filming action.
Another attempt as concealment is the fast editing overshadowing a lack of intelligent dialogue between the team on the ground and the team watching overhead from drones. By fast editing between people on computers and the people actually fighting they tried to make it all feel far more intellectual than it really is. They continuously insert shots of drone footage or security cameras trying to mask what simply isn’t there and it couldn’t feel more forced. Much the same with the action scenes, it’s all in your face, muddled imagery of people doing something you assume is important to the story and that’s about the best you can hope for.
While there is a lot wrong with Mile 22 it still manages some semblance of a throw away actioner that could have just been fun and left at that. With so much wrong working against it though I’m hard pressed to even call it throw away. It has moments, and moments scattered throughout nonsense isn’t a complete film. It’s a highlight reel at best. If you had any interest in seeing this movie I would say see it with low expectations and the knowledge that one viewing will be more than enough to get your fill of what little this movie has to offer.
Rated R For: strong violence and language throughout
Runtime: 95 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Thriller
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Lauren Cohan, John Malkovich
Directed By: Peter Berg
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 3/ Directing: 2/ Visuals: 2.5
OVERALL: 2.5 Nerdskulls
Buy to Own: No
Check out the trailer below:
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