“Mile 22” Loses Its Way at Mile 21

Mile 22 relatively efficient running time keeps this Mark Wahlberg action movie on track.

The Mile 22 is the distance to the airport to deliver the package, Iko Uwais (of the Raid series) a defector who has the knowledge and the code to unlock an encrypted hard drive with a self destructive time lock that has the location of stolen nuclear material, through assassins on motorcycles, choppily edited martial arts mayhem and automatic gun battles. Whalberg’s team is an IMF force with less combat tech but better central command support.

The economical running time allows for efficient chase and combat sequences and only the briefest on the fly character development. Mark Wahlberg snapping a stress rubber band and spouting hyperactive logorrhea qualifies as deep personal development, while Iko Uwais silence adds a suspicious contrast, and the rest of the expendable cast is glad to be profane, well trained and obedient to the end. An under utilized John Malkovich serves as a hidden away traffic director dramatically barking GPS routes and exposition.

Director Peter Berg, working with Wahlberg for the fourth time, keeps everything humorlessly direct and savagely bloody. The action and combat scenes have a Paul Greengrass Borne series choppiness without the benefit of full figure establishing shots. It spoils some of Iko Uwais masterly martial arts performances but adds a grinding reality to the shoot outs.

The nihilistic ending, intended to setup a sequel, is a downer that undercuts what happened before. It makes Mile 22 a disposable action movie.

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