By Laurie Coker
Mark Wahlberg looks great, but his latest film, Mile 22 is little more than action, death, and mayhem held together by a thin transparent string of a story. Peter Berg, the director of Lone Survivor, helms this violent, sometimes intense fiasco. Wahlberg does his thing, but it simply isn’t enough. Where there might have been a story, there is instead, shaky camera work and over editing, leaving the audience searching for clarity.
Wahlberg stars as James Silva, the leader of a secret elite team of government “off-the-grid” CIA agents including Laura Kerr (Lauren Cohan), Samantha Snow (MMA fighter Ronda Rousey), and Johnny Porter (Terry Kinney). After a deadly raid on a group of Russians in a home in perfect suburbia, the team is tasked with transporting an informant named Li Noor (Iko Uwais) 22 miles. Noor holds a key in his head to open a self-destructing hard drive that identifies five different locations of cesium powder – a deadly agent that in the wrong hands could wipe out thousands of lives. Noor, fearing for his life, demands to be transported to America. Then and only then will he give up the code and the clock is ticking. Behind the scenes, leading the team is “Mother” (John Malkovich) and a plethora of computer nerds with eyes in the sky and every nook and cranny of the way. What this notably talented team can’t see is the people watching them.
From the onset, the story falters and is made worse by confusing gaps in the telling, something easily blamed on Berg and his editing team. The melee is copious and vile, and those who die are inconsequential. Writer Lea Carpenter attempts to offer some character development, fashioned by Berg in flashes of images from confidential files, old photographs, video clips and brief phone conversations. Making matters worse the few characters warranting any attention are lost in the bullet-flying, blood-splattering fray.
Silva’s mission isn’t impossible, and Mile 22 can’t hold a candle to the similarly themed Tom Cruise Mission Impossible series. Bottom line – it’s a muddling mess. One redeeming attribute is Uwais, whose martial art prowess (and that of his sparring partners) makes up some of the film’s more exciting moments. Wahlberg warrants better material, but a paycheck is a paycheck. The R-rated 22 Miles earns a D+ in the grade book. Folks who enjoy ridiculous gunplay, abundant explosions, and bloody hand to hand fight sequences might find something worth the price of a matinee ticket in this discombobulated debacle.