“Mile 22” misses by a mile (or 22?)

Brendan Rodenberg

One of the few downsides to being a newer reviewer is that you need to build an audience somehow. And in most cases, the way for a reviewer to develop themselves as a writer is to take any project that comes your way; that is, being willing to watch and review anything so you can try to get a foot in the proverbial door. Sometimes, this can allow the viewer to discover underappreciated and unique projects that they wouldn’t normally watch, opening the door to new directors and ideas to be explored. But on the other hand, sometimes you’re the critic who has to watch “Mile 22.”

Over-exaggeration is something critics like myself are prone to, as negative and hyperbolic criticism is fun to both read and write. But every so often there’s honesty in these statements. And I am being completely honest and not overreacting when I say that “Mile 22″ is the single worst action film I have seen in the past few years. It hits all the milestones of a bad film, from unlikable characters to choppy editing to a confusing plot.

Let’s begin with the story. From what I can gather, Mark Wahlberg plays gifted government agent/unlikable smartmouth Jimmy Silva who, along with his band of fellow top-secret tactical agents (including pugilist Ronda Rousey), has received an important mission: six small tubes of a deadly chemical weapon known as “Fear Powder” (each enough to somehow eliminate the entire population of a state if they were dropped out of an envelope) have been acquired by the Russians, who seek to destroy America because… well, that’s never explained.

Mark Wahlberg in “Mile 22”.

A foreign intelligence asset named Li has a disc that contains the locations of the stockpiles, but refuses to give up the code to unlock it unless he is granted safe passage to the United States. Otherwise, the disc will delete itself after eight hours, ruining America’s chance to stop the biological attacks. It’s up to Silva and his crew to escort the fugitive a whopping 22 miles to the U.S. government while airplane- fighting the corrupt government of a non-existent city along the way. As is typical of action films, many shootouts and fistfights ensue in the race to escort the important man to his destination—so many, in fact, that the majority of the film plays like a tremendous fight scene with occasional overhead views.

The main problem with the film is that it seems to go out of its way to make its characters as unlikable as possible. Little to no connection is built with any of the main cast. Many of the moments where the squad interacts simply go nowhere or devolve into cursing and nonsensical chatter and insults, and you’d be hard-pressed to find five minutes in which a certain expletive isn’t said at least twice. There’s no attempt to make you like any of the characters, and when some squad mates do inevitably kick the bucket (as you do on dangerous missions), there are no feelings from the audience.

The other major issue I have with “Mile 22,” though, is the editing. In many action films, rapid shots and dramatic cuts are used in order to allow a sense of spectacle and urgency, but the rate they are used in “Mile 22″ crosses the line between action-packed and annoying. I wasn’t able to notice any shots that stayed in the same place for more than three seconds. When making a film with hard bouts of action, there needs to be somewhat of a respite period in between them—a time when the audience can catch their breath before getting excited for another fight scene. These periods need patience and silence to make the action more striking (look at films like “The Hateful Eight”). But here, everything is constantly fired at the viewer without time to rest, which results in more headaches than enjoyment.

But despite all the terrible aspects, “Mile 22” is not completely devoid of amusement. My favorite part from the movie, unfortunately, was not one I imagine the directors intended to be the amusing aspect: in one scene, the team is meeting at a small coffee shop, and the waitress brings over a small cake for one of the officers. When she explains that it is her birthday, Mark Wahlberg immediately sweeps his arm over the table, sending the cake and plate crashing to the floor while shouting “NO CAKES! **** BIRTHDAY CAKE!”

This scene certainly doesn’t add anything to the movie, but it was the one chuckle I had during this hour and a half epileptic fit.

“Mile 22” intends to come off as a tale of political intrigue and shooting action, attempting to mix more meaningful quotes in an effort to be more than a mindless action flick. The intent here may have been to leave the viewer with a cautionary view of the government, and that even the smallest mistake or bout of mistrust can lead to danger. The only thing I left with, however, was a headache. It’s needlessly profane, terribly shot and has nothing of value or even excitement to offer. Save your time and your patience and watch the new “Mission Impossible: Fallout” instead.

Rating: 1/5 Sails

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