Mile 22

Year: 2018
Production Co: STX Entertainment
Director: Peter Berg
Writer: Lea Carpenter/Graham Roland
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey

Even though it came out before this film, I watched Peter Berg's Mark Wahlberg-starrer Deepwater Horizon more recently than Mile 22, and it made me realise what disposable fairy floss this was by comparison. Where Berg's account of the 2010 oil platform disaster was worthy, weighty and reverent, this popcorn action flick just feels disappointingly small scale and forgettable.

Two suburbanites approach a house, arguing because it seems the GPS has bought them to the wrong street and they're already late. They knock on the door to apologise and check, and before you can wonder what's going on they've pulled guns, thrown a flash grenade inside and burst in. More soldiers approach from the back of the house, and spies are watching from overhead drone footage in a high tech control room.

Turns out the place is a safe house for Russian secret agents harbouring a cache of radioactive material that can be weaponised with the right equipment. Silva (Wahlberg) is the CIA overseer watching remotely, and along with her team, Kerr (Cohan) is trying to neutralise the spies and secure the material.

It ends with bodies everywhere but the threat mostly contained apart from one last piece of information, and everyone goes on with their lives, Silva a no-nonsense boss who's strategy seems to be keeping his people on their toes by being a niggling arsehole, Kerr trying to do her job while she deals with a divorce from her husband that threatens access to her young daughter.

Months later, an asset of Kerr's in a fictitious southeast Asian country, Noor (Iko Uwais) surrenders to the US embassy, asking for asylum in exchange for the last piece of info the US needs on the radioactive material swiped in the Russian safe house.

The CIA agrees and Silva and Kerr are assigned to escort Noor out of the country, but they'll have their work cut out for them as the corrupt local government want him handed back to face charges of espionage, sending any number of hired thugs and goons after the group to catch or silence him.

And that's it. After half an hour or so of set-up with some stronger than usual characterisations (not entirely successful, just not as bland as you usually see in this genre), it's a extended car chase with some gun battles and ultraviolence thrown in.

The problem is, even with Peter Berg's almost Michael Bay-level propensity to blow stuff up, it feels like it all just has no real consequences or stakes, and when the final reveal about Noor's true loyalties comes to light you'll lose track completely (as well as already having lost interest).

It's a plot as an excuse to feature some action set pieces, and they aren't enough to impress when you consider the other action films we're used to nowadays. Even the one element that might have made it stand out – more visible bloodshed than most movies of the genre – fails to make any impact.

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