Release Date(s)2018 (November 13, 2018)
Studio(s)STXfilms/Huayi Brothers (Universal Pictures Home Entertainment)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B-
Mile 22 is the kind of film that looks better in its theatrical trailer than in its entirety. Patterned after the Mission: Impossible films, with a cast headed by a star, it is packed with action and stunts but comes to little more than a noisy ninety minutes that relies on elements of more successful movies and fails to add much that’s new.
Jimmy Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is part of an elite paramilitary team called Overwatch, which is staging a raid on a Russian safe house that goes completely awry.
Sixteen months later, the team is situated in the fictional Southeast Asian country of Indocarr. Li Noor (Iko Uwais), an Indocarr Special Forces officer and a trusted source for the U.S. Embassy, claims to know the location of a missing cache of radioactive powder discs that can be used to make dirty bombs. He will exchange the information for transport out of the country.
The Indocarr government demands that Noor be handed over to it, but the U.S. government wants to get him immediately to a waiting plane. Silva, partner Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan, The Walking Dead), and squad members Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) and William “Dougie” Douglas III (Carlo Alban) are assigned to transport Noor from the American Embassy to the nearest airfield – 22 miles away.
Most of the film deals with the danger-fraught trip. Director Peter Berg, who joins forces with Wahlberg on their fourth film collaboration, knows how to stage action. There’s no question about that. But he’s less successful at drawing us into the story. After a suspenseful opening sequence, with Silva and his team closing in on the safe house as Bishop (John Malkovich) broadcasts minute-by-minute details to them from afar, the movie jumps to shoot ‘em ups, car chases, explosions, motorcycle-riding assassins, and rocket launchers. Yes, these scenes are exciting, but because we haven’t been given enough to feel invested in the mission, they feel awfully empty.
Wahlberg has done films like this before and fits easily into the role of Silva. To make the character more than a live-action G.I. Joe, the writers have made him bipolar. Aside from a couple of scenes in which he rattles off his dialogue with machine-gun speed, however, this disorder doesn’t figure into the proceedings other than to make him reckless.
The stand-out of the movie is Uwais, who delivers some beautifully choreographed action scenes – one in which he’s handcuffed to a table – that really crackle, making the other action scenes pale by comparison. Using martial arts, he takes on more than one bad guy at a time, dispatching them with breakneck speed. With his high kicks, acrobatics, and lightning-fast moves, his grace and effortless confidence are reminiscent of martial arts icon Bruce Lee.
Malkovich plays Bishop as cool and calm even as plans go haywire. He directs the team through a building in which any room, any nook, any possible place to hide can mean death. Never ruffled, he’s the voice not only of authority, but of reassurance.
To distinguish Mile 22 from other action flicks, there are a number of twists, mostly in the movie’s last few minutes, but these seem like plot zingers rather than logical explanations of what has occurred. It takes a while to put the pieces in place, and that’s a problem. Twists should answer questions, not raise them. The problem is emphasis and focus. Critical scenes are glossed over quickly, so when their importance is revealed late in the game, it seems terribly contrived and frustrating.
Rated R, Mile 22 is a standard-issue action picture with guns blazing, cars being blown up, and bullets flying. The rapid-fire editing – few shots exceed five seconds – is exhausting even in a film that runs just 94 minutes.
Detail on the Blu-ray release is excellent. Video resolution is 1080p. Aspect ratio is 2.39:1. In close-ups, pores on faces are visible and individual strands rather than a brown or black mass can be seen in hair. Perspiration and blood streaks also stand out realistically. Colors are bold, with the palette tending toward yellows and fiery reds in the movie’s many explosions. Overall, picture is sharp and well detailed throughout. Optional English subtitles are available.
Audio is English 7.1 DTS-HD. This is especially effective on this particularly noise-filled soundtrack. Gunfire, explosions, the sounds of racing cars, crashes, and the terrific infirmary fight benefit from superb, it's “you’re there” sound. Dialogue is clear throughout, even with Iko Uweis’ accent.
Bonus features on the 2-Disc Blu-ray release include 7 brief featurettes and 5 Mile 22 trailers.
Overwatch – Mark Wahlberg, director Peter Berg, and actor Lauren Cohan discuss the role of the Overwatch team, noting “the mission is the only priority.”
Introducing Iko Uweis – Uweis is a world-renowned action star who choreographs his own fight scenes. His unique style of martial arts is discussed.
Iko Fight – Behind-the-scenes rehearsals are shown with floor markings set to the exact dimensions of the set. Iko’s big scene – the infirmary fight – is choreographed blow by blow, taped, and shown to director Berg for approval. Each stuntman is given specific instructions, and the routine is practiced slower than it will be filmed so actors get to know it perfectly.
Bad Ass Women – Stars Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey, writer Lea Carpenter, and director Peter Berg comment that the female characters must possess “international smarts and tenacity along with insane physical ability.”
Behind-the-Scenes Stunts – John Malkovich refers to the action scenes as “controlled demolition.” We see a pod car, which is a car with a stunt man atop the car actually doing the stunt driving while actors inside the car pretend to drive. Director Berg wanted as much of the action scenes as possible filmed live rather than with CGI enhancement to avoid using large blue or green screens.
Modern Combat – Scenes are shot in real time with multiple cameras. Filming of car chases, explosions, and gunfire takes place on the streets of Bogota, Colombia. Fight and stunt coordinators refer to the staged fights as “super violent” and compare Iko Uweis to Jackie Chan, who also choreographed his own stunts.
Colombia – Chosen because it hasn’t been used a lot in movies and offered fresh locations, providing an “amazing backdrop.” Both the mayor of Bogota and the president of Colombia visit the set and meet Wahlberg and Berg. With the numerous action scenes, many government agencies had to be contacted for permission to film.
– Dennis Seuling