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‘Mile 22’ isn't only bad, it's historically bad

August 19, 2018

Once in a while a movie comes along that’s so inexplicably bad that it messes with your head. “Mile 22” is the unicorn of those rare movies.

 

Generally, a good cast and director paired with explosions, gunfire, and crazy fights scenes should at least add up to a decent popcorn flick.

 

“Mile 22” laughs at your generalities.

Mark Wahlberg as James Silva in “Mile 22.” (Photo by Murray Close; Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

The movie is about a team of covert military operatives, led by the fast-talking and potentially mentally ill (or maybe just a jackass) James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), rains hell down upon a Russian safe house filled with ne'er-do-wells who are working weaponize the toxic substance known as cesium.

 

While successful on that mission, more than a year later the team is still trying to track down the rest of the missing cesium. One of their assets (operative talk for “snitch”) offers to provide them with the locations of the remaining cesium … under one condition – safe passage to the United States.

 

The asset, Indonesian police officer Lil Noor (Iko Uwais), to the nearest airfield with a guarantee of safe passage to the United States. In exchange for his safety, Noor will provide Silva and company with the code to a hard drive that contains the details. Anticipating their reluctance, Noor has set the unhackable computer drive to a self-destruct mechanism. If his demands aren’t meant, the intel goes away.

 

Seeing no other way, the team agrees to transport Noor to the airfield. The distance … 22 miles (see what they did there?). Complicating matters further is a team of Indonesian operatives who don’t want Noor leaving the country, and the ever-present threat of Russian involvement.

 

Iko Uwais as Lil Noor in “Mile 22.” (Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Courtesy of STXfilms

 

If it sounds messy and convoluted, that’s because it is.

 

You’ve got a laundry list of items that are broached and made to feel important, but then aren’t really revisited. Among those: the familial strife of team member Alice (Luren Cohen); Silva’s ticks, outbursts, and mental state; the relationship between the team and the government; the relationship between the team and their “Mother,” Bishop (John Malkovich); and why is Noor so important to the Indonesian intelligence community, but not important enough to broker a deal for?

 

Despite that, which I fully expected, I held out hope because more than anything, I viewed “Mile 22” as a showcase for the ridiculous action sequences Uwais could/should/will bring to American action films – see “The Raid” if you need a sneak peek.

 

And that ability is on full display. And then it keeps going, and it keeps getting bloodier and more violent until the film devolves into nothing more than a competition to see who can shoot more people in the head and break more body parts in increasingly grotesque manners. I’m all for crazy fight scenes and violence, but this is the only thing the movie had going for it, and they ran with it and never stopped running.

 

Aside from the laughable action sequences, and garbled story, the next most egregious thing about “Mile 22” is its acting, which is honestly the last thing I considered being a possibility.

 

Wahlberg isn’t a great actor, but I’ve accepted him for what he is – a solid, bankable star that works pretty well in the right vehicle. This wasn’t it. His portrayal of Silva left more questions than it did answers. Is he a genius? A sociopath? Mental health issues? Just a jerk? And quite honestly, I’m over it and never want to know the answer because that would mean there’s a sequel.

 

This is the fourth collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg, and for the good of cinema, I really hope it’s their last.

 

Uwais wasn’t particularly great in terms of acting, but he wasn’t brought in to act so much as to meld Jackie Chan’s aerials and Steven Segal’s bone-snapping abilities. In that respect, he succeeded.

 

Ronda Rousey stars as Sam Snow in the STXfilms “Mile 22.” (Photo by Murray Close; Motion Picture Artwork © 2017 STX Financing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Somehow, the rest of the cast is even worse than Wahlberg. I absolutely adore Cohen in everything I’ve seen her in (particularly “The Walking Dead” and “Supernatural”), but here she’s given nothing to work with and that’s what she provides. The same can be said for the usually stellar Malkovich. Even worse, but not nearly as surprising, as that duo is Ronda Rousey in the role of team member Sam Snow. I know she’s got a name and physicality about her, but her acting game is the only thing worse than her MMA standup (see Holm, Holly and Nunes, Amanda for proof). Movies that get theatrical release should no longer be looking her way.

 

All of those things add up, or maybe subtract in this case, to one of the worst movies I can recall. We’re talking “Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector” levels of bad, but with weapons and explosions.

 

If you must see “Mile 22,” I suggest waiting for Netflix. And then using someone else’s account to watch it. And then using your neighbor’s Wi-Fi so your own resources aren’t spent on it.