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Review: Mile 22

Director Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg have seen The Raid films. Hooray for them but what that means is that they have now incorporated the best action star working right now into their brand of hero-porn. Iko Uwais deserves better than this as an introduction to American audiences. Mile 22 cuts up his fight sequences to the point they don't actually showcase how amazing Uwais is.

In Mile 22, Mark Wahlberg gets the top billing. He plays CIA officer Jimmy Silva, who we are told is insanely smart. Wahlberg uses this as an excuse to deliver his lines at a rapid pace that suggests he is manic. Silva is a part of an elite team who execute missions that can't be disclosed but are what keeps freedom alive. We know this because Silva gives about fifteen monologues on the ugly but necessary nature of his job throughout the brief 90-minute film. The film crosscuts between a debrief on the mission and the mission itself.

Silva is a royal jerk. He regularly abuses his colleagues, especially Lauren Cohan's character who misses her daughter and is trying to keep things together. Silva tells her to focus on her job. He then smashes another teammate's birthday cake. He berates the techies on his team. It is really hard to give a damn about him and yet the film keeps urging us that he is a hero.

The mission involves transporting an informant (Uwais) safely in order to secure the location of nuclear weapons. It involves a 22 mile journey through a crowded city. This seems like a great setup for some high-intensity action sequences and Berg delivers a few of them. One, in particular, involving Uwais handcuffed to a hospital bed feels like what fans of The Raid might have expected. Except that the filmmaking here is so frenetic and messy that you can't tell what is happening nor the space in which it is happening in. Uwais performs some jaw-dropping choreography but you can barely make sense of any of it. His skills are wasted thanks to the ADD-style editing the film employs.

Mile 22 wants to be a bloody action spectacle with its head hellbent on arguing for the extreme actions the US may have to take to protect our freedom. It preaches about heroism and sacrifice and routinely relishes in grisly violence. The baddies are rarely given a face so that the audience can substitute whomever they think our enemy is. The film's terrible editing ruin any of the joy that might have come out of it with Uwais's presence. In short, Mile 22 is the worst TED talk ever given by a coked-up asshole Bostonian with a few blurry, incomprehensible action scenes sprinkled into it.



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