Mark Wahlberg adds another forgettable credit to his action filmography playing the head of an elite CIA paramilitary team who must extract a foreign asset from an American Embassy in Southeast Asia in “Mile 22,” a messy and misguided action thriller costarring John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), Ronda Rousey, and “The Raid” star Iko Uwais.
In his fourth and least memorable collaboration with Wahlberg, director Peter Berg (“Patriots Day”) ratchets up the action to the point of incoherence, offering plenty of bomb blasts and gunfights to keep the adrenaline pumping but a storyline that never breaches credible territory. Featuring poorly defined, essentially interchangeable characters spewing line after line of tough guy dialogue, a script that almost immediately erases from memory, and direction that favors action over logic, “Mile 22” is a military-minded action flick that feels fabricated from start to finish. Although moviegoers can’t seem to get enough of Mark Wahlberg, “Mile 22,” an action thriller run amok, may finally be the film to put a pause to his action heroics.
In “Mile 22,” Wahlberg portrays Jimmy Silva, the brilliant and brash senior officer of a lethal CIA paramilitary team known as the Ground Branch. Along with his tough-minded operatives Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey), and William Douglas III (Carlos Alban), the Ground Branch embark on a highly dangerous mission in Southeast Asia to extract a foreign asset named Li Noor (Iko Uwais) who possesses sensitive information about a potential terrorist attack in the United States.
Working with the assistance of Overwatch, a tactical command group led by Bishop (John Malkovich) that operates from thousands of miles away, Silva and the Ground Branch risk life and limb to extract the asset and transport him the twenty two miles to the airstrip. As the special ops team struggles to escape from enemy territory in a race against time, the double-crosses pile up alongside the body count.
In his previous collaborations with Mark Wahlberg, director Peter Berg has proven himself adept at balancing heartfelt drama with pulse-pounding action, which makes it all the more puzzling why “Mile 22” seems like such a step backwards. Some of the problem stems from a first-time screenplay by Lea Carpenter that struggles to distinguish its characters and turn the over-the-top gunplay into anything of substance, resulting in a deluge of mindless action sequences. And while cinematographer Jacques Joffret’s handheld camerawork succeeds in capturing the chaos of combat, particularly those featuring the martial arts tactics of actor Iko Uwais, the editing by Colby Parker Jr. and Melissa Lawson Cheung feels frustratingly disorienting.
As the supposedly brilliant senior officer Jimmy Silva, Mark Wahlberg just kind of bulldozes his way through his performance, providing rapid-fire dialogue, macho posturing and action heroics whenever required. There’s no denying Wahlberg’s talents as an actor, but without a decent script or a well-rounded character to work with, he comes across as little more than a movie star playing military dress-up. Veteran actor John Malkovich provides some gravitas as Bishop, the shadowy character who runs the tactical command group known as Overwatch, while Lauren Cohan is similarly capable as a Ground Branch operative. As for the others, Ronda Rousey’s performance as yet another member of the Ground Branch proves she has yet to make any great strides in her transformation from UFC fighter to thespian, while Iko Uwais puts his martial arts background to great use as the foreign asset in need of extraction.
“Mile 22” is a forgettable action thriller that isn’t worth the journey.
By Lucas Mirabella
Running Time: 95 minutes
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.