L&D were a blank slate settling into the new Mark Wahlberg vehicle, Mile 22, not realizing that the movie has been (appropriately) panned by many of our critic brethren. Wahlberg sort of reprises his misanthropic, fast-talking Sergeant Dignam role from The Departed. Only here he plays the on-the-ground savant leader of a special ops team of last resort, called on when diplomatic and militaristic solutions fail. And, it’s pretty cool to see the moving technological parts of these ops, reminiscent of Enemy of the State from so many years ago. This movie is not nearly as good, unfortunately, though I would guess that those responsible thought it would be a home run worthy of at least one sequel. I guess we’ll see.
The plot centers on Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan and former UFC phenom Ronda Rousey (among others) tasked with transporting Iko Uwais to an airstrip 20-some miles away as a quid pro quo to stave off a large helping of cesium-enhanced terrorism. If you don’t know about the horrors of cesium, Wahlberg will enlighten you along the way; he’s pretty knowledgeable. By my estimate, this trek absorbs the last two-thirds of the movie and is effectively an extended action sequence through the streets of somewhere in Columbia or Georgia, I guess (though the plot was ostensibly set in Indonesia).
The movie does possess a couple of strengths. The technology stuff is mostly well done and cool to look at and sort of overwhelming to keep track of, sort of like surveillance-state technology, I suppose. As for the players, Wahlberg is a compelling character with his verbal rat-a-tat-tats and band-snapping intensity. Rousey is also pretty good and well cast. But the action hero here is the asset, Iko Uwais, who is like a supercharged kung fu god, just beating the living hell out of everyone who gets in his way. Even being handcuffed to a table can’t slow him down. He is unbelievable. He steals the show. He wins the movie.
There are a couple of downers, as well. The story line with Cohan is ridiculous, irritating filler, though she does have one great sequence where she is on the losing end of some WWF-type action from a much larger foe. And John Malkovich shows up with a pretty cool new haircut, but otherwise it is pretty disappointing to see his talent wasted like this.
As for the action, there is certainly a lot to choose from. Unfortunately, it’s often disorienting with those multi-camera blur sequences, and occasionally hyper violent (causing L&D to cringe laugh so loudly at one point that the small smattering of our movie-going brethren turned to see who was laughing at a man falling on his head in such a way that his neck and shoulder are perfectly parallel, ouch). It is violent even by today’s standards, though not too much in the way of gross-out gore. This is a movie not afraid to shoot you in the face. L points out that this is another one of those first-person shooter movies, a la John Wick or, the gold standard, Hardcore Henry . For our New Year’s Resolution, we will revisit the latter and provide a review. What a breath of bloody phlegm that movie was.
But back to Mile 22 — the movie seemed longer than it was, and as it ended I credibly thought it might have another half hour. My guess is that Wahlberg and the other producers thought going in that it had another hour and a half in the form of a sequel. I have my doubts. A better use of Wahlberg’s time might be an exploration of what that Sgt Dingham character is up to all these years later. Or Ted 3.
So maybe at the $5 bar for this one. Fortunately, I’ve been racking up these Fandango VIP points that effectively give me $3 for every movie I see, so we were in and out of this one, popcorn included, for just $2. So let’s just say it soared over the $2 bar with the added bonus that we didn’t have to sit through an extra hour after the popcorn was gone.