Yet again, we have a Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg team up. Are these guys married to each other or something? Because if so, congratulations!
Once again, I’ve already seen this movie before writing my initial impressions, so… none of that. Like said, I’m behind on my writing. Personal issues, galore.
Here’s the cast. Starring we have Mark Wahlberg (ALL THE MONEY IN THE WORLD , DEEPWATER HORIZON , TED 2 , and the upcoming INSTANT FAMILY ), Lauren Cohan (ALL EYEZ ON ME  and THE BOY ), Rousey Rousey (FURIOUS 7  and THE EXPENDABLES 3 ), Iko Uwais (STAR WARS: FORCE AWAKENS , and upcoming films THE NIGHT COMES FOR US  and STUBER ), and John Malkovich (DEEPWATER HORIZON, and upcoming films BIRD BOX  and VALLEY OF THE GODS ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Peter Berg, known for PATRIOTS DAY (2016) and DEEPWATER HORIZON. Penning the screenplay, we have Lea Carpenter, making her screenwriting debut. Congrats, miss. Composing the score is Jeff Russo, known for 10 episodes of SANTA CLARITA DIET (2017 – ongoing) and 15 episodes of STAR TREK: DISCOVERY (2017 – ongoing). The cinematographer is Jacques Jouffret, known for TRUTH OR DARE (2018), THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR (2016), and the upcoming BLOODSHOT (2020). Finally, co-editing are Melissa Lawson Cheung (stuff I’ve either never heard of or seen) and Colby Parker (PATRIOTS DAY and ANT-MAN ).
This is my honest opinion of: MILE 22
The story follows an elite and top-secret squad of commandos called Overwatch, led by the hardened and grizzled veteran James “Jimmy” Silva (Mark Wahlberg), stationed in Indocarr City, South East Asia. Their current mission is to find a shipment of cesium that goes missing, which can be weaponized and cause radioactive damage as powerful as a nuclear bomb. Their source, a local police officer named Li Noor (Iko Uwais), turns himself in with an encrypted disc at hand that contains the location of the missing cesium. He’ll give the password to decrypt it under the condition that he is flown out of the country and taken to America. It’s agreed, and the twenty-two mile journey to the rendezvous point is mapped, but not without the local government doing everything in its power to retrieve Li.
What in bloody piss ass happened here?! This movie is awful!
Let’s start appropriately; with the beginning. Generally speaking, an opening scene is meant to establish who the characters are, what they’re all about, and the tone that the audience should expect. Yes, we see faces. Wahlberg’s a sniper, Rousey speaks Russian, and Cohan’s got the cool smaller gun, but these are not characters. In fact, this entire opening sequence almost makes no sense, and takes the length of the runtime of the entire movie to circle back around to tie the events of the main plot with this opening scene. We have no idea what they’re after, we have no idea why they’re after it, we have no idea who these bad guys are, it makes zero sense. This script is atrociously bipolar too. If it’s not explaining anything because of the action, it’s actual dialog doesn’t do anything for the audience either. We open on Alice (Cohan) and her squadmate go up to the suspected house that holds… whatever it was that they were looking for, and do a horrendously elongated and elaborate ruse of pretending to be a lost married couple. Who are they doing this for? It would be one thing if their enemies were watching them and the ruse was to fool them, but… no one’s fucking watching them and it’s five fucking minutes of Cohan and her fellow actor repeating, “Is it Christmas Street, or Christmas Circle?” “Let’s just ask, it’s not a big deal.” Seriously, don’t make a drinking game out of that scene for every repeated line. You will die from alcohol poisoning. And then to top all that shit off, the movie decides to jump sixteen months into the future. Why?! Barely anything was established to warrant a drastic time jump like that and we still have no idea what the fuck was going on!
And let’s talk about the ironically worst part of this movie: Wahlberg. Guys, please don’t hate me. On any other day, I love the guy. In his comedies (most of them), he’s hilarious. In his action movies, he’s intense. He’s got range and adapts incredibly well to anything that you might throw at him. But honestly… and this is saying something considering that I’ve seen both of his Transformers movies… this is quite possibly the worst character I’ve ever seen him play. Let me make something clear, I know what the movie was going for. Jimmy has a brain that works on overdrive. He’s crazy smart and has a mental condition that makes him quick anger and talks incredibly fast. However, the way he’s written as a character is unbelievably obnoxious. He goes off on these overly long rage tantrums explaining how powerful these cesium bombs can be, which feels so counterproductive when time is of the essence. He monologues at least three times in the movie. While I can appreciate that the movie acknowledges this, having Bishop (John Malkovich) yelling at him, “Stop monologuing, you bipolar fuck!” which did get a legit laugh out of me, but that barely helps the overall movie, especially since it only happens once. I give Wahlberg credit, he punched his proverbial time card, he got on that camera, and he committed to his performance, but the writing and direction was nowhere to be found to save him. Jimmy is a wholly unlikable character, he’s cruel and barely supportive of his team, even on Sam’s (Rousey) birthday when she’s given a think of cake, or whatever that was.
And by heavenly Jesus, what the fuck was up with the editing?! Every so often, Jimmy is seen sitting at a table giving a statement to some unknown people and it takes a good long fucking while before it hits me that these scenes with him are flashforwards and he’s retelling the events of his mission in taking Li to the rendezvous point. There isn’t even any rhyme or reason to cutting to these brief-ass moments either. They show up… because the movie says so. Brilliant. And the bad editing isn’t just in terms of the narrative either. Oh, fuck that, this movie wanted to bludgeon your senses with epileptic-hating action sequences too. Fucking God, I don’t want to hear another person say how bad the action is in UNDERWORLD (2003) because (other than if you pay close enough attention, you can indeed tell the difference between the waring factions) you can’t tell what the fuck is going on in them. The camera moves so fast from side to side, and no single shot lasts longer two fucking frames, that I would swear to God that a Michael Bay film and an action scene from the Bourne franchise were significantly easier to follow and wouldn’t induce a headache as painful as this movie dished out. Earlier in the film, Li is attacked by some under cover bad guys and this hand-to-hand fight scene was visceral, well-shot, and surprisingly fun. While Li’s action scenes are few (there’s only two), it would be easy to assume that if he did get into a melee battle, he’d be the best part of the movie. Remorsefully, that’s not what happened. While that first fight scene was great, his next one is also plagued by quick cuts that would make a normal person sick. It’s a damned frustration unlike anything I’ve experienced from an otherwise great set of filmmakers and actors.
If things weren’t bad enough, the entire plot is a red herring! Shyeah! The entire movie is, if you were able to keep up with it, is about a shit load of cesium going missing and… I think the disk that Li came into Overwatch HQ with was supposed to have the location of the missing cesium. But he’d only forego the password to decrypt the disk if it meant his escape from South East Asia to America. All that happens (including an embarrassingly ham-fisted throwaway line from Li, “Say ‘hi’ to your mother for me” to Jimmy), but then we get a surprise twist. Li was never a double agent working for his government, but rather a triple agent working for the Russians and his mission was to exact revenge against Overwatch who had killed a Russian official’s son in the beginning of the film during that nearly senseless opening. Well, that’s all well and good, but here’s the thing… where is all that cesium?! Believe it or not, once the twist comes up, the movie sort of stops telling a story and starts bathing in what it thinks is the most mind-shattering twist in cinematic history, instead of telling the audience… was the cesium a complete lie? Are these bombs actually set up in and around the city?! There are so many loose ends that I wouldn’t be surprised if the shooting script was the first draft and never edited or improved upon.
I want to say that this movie isn’t objectively the worst movie I’ve ever seen, and it really isn’t. Some of the firefight scenes can be good and Cohan really tries to act her heart out. Objectively, I’ve seen worse movies. But here’s the thing, this movie wasn’t simply an incompetently-made film. It was incompetently-made by everyone behind the scenes. The writing was bad enough, and a good chunk of the movie’s failure could easily be said to be because of the embarrassing editing, but even Berg’s direction was a failure, which particularly hurts me. DEEPWATER and PATRIOTS DAY shared my number five slot of my Top 10 favorite films of 2016, as well as a really damn good film out of LONE SURVIVOR. I understood that maybe BATTLESHIP (2012) wasn’t entirely his fault, and maybe he was bullied by producers to make that movie before venturing into his future great films, but I have a hard time believing that history was repeating himself. It’s like unless Berg has a real event to make a movie about, he’s useless at his job, which is beyond strange to me. If this was made by anyone else, I wouldn’t be as insulted as I am. But because I was so looking forward to this and I considered myself an avid fan of Berg, this wasn’t just a letdown, this was an insult. As a recommendation, I say don’t see this movie. Avoid it at all costs. The action ain’t worth it, the performances ain’t worth it… nothing about this movie is worth your time or money.
My honest rating for MILE 22: 1/5
This week’s reviews
Next week’s reviews
- THE LITTLE MERMAID
- THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST
- THE HAPPYTIME MURDERS
- THE BOOKSHOP
- SUPPORT THE GIRLS
- 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY