A Brief History
On August 17, 2018, American action film fans are treated to the opening of the new action/thriller/black-ops movie starring Mark Wahlberg in his quirkiest best, Mile 22. Yes, we watched a pre-screening of the film and like the full packed audience, we loved every gun shot, grenade blast, and kick to the face. What we do not like is the title of the film! We know that is being picky, but for what it is worth we think a title that grabs the potential movie goer would represent the film better. Still…
Well directed by Peter Berg, he of such notable films as The Kingdom, Deepwater Horizon, Friday Night Lights, Hancock, Battleship, Lone Survivor and Patriots Day (3 of which starred Mark Wahlberg), this film is a relentless action thriller centered on Wahlberg as a highly trained black-ops CIA operative with a team that included Rhonda Rousey of MMA fame and Lauren Cohan, also known as “Maggie” from The Walking Dead. As we do not like to spoil movie details for you, suffice to say the plot has this crack team of CIA super-troopers sent on an off the books operation in a foreign (Asian) country to remove an extremely important native informant that has information about stolen radioactive dust in the hands of terrorists. The team is given the seemingly impossible task of moving this “asset” (played by Iko Uwais with terrific aplomb) from the US Embassy to an airfield 22 miles away (thus the unfortunate name of the film) where he can be flown to the US. The asset will not reveal the vital information until he safely aboard the plane to the USA.
Of course, the CIA team is beset on all sides by domestic government operatives in both undercover and paramilitary garb. Running a daunting gauntlet, the Wahlberg led team attempts to fight its way through a crowded Asian city with a running fire fight that also features deadly hand-to-hand combat. Meanwhile, the progress of the team is monitored and assisted by a John Malkovich led team of high tech supervisors with access to satellite images and surveillance cameras. Unknown to the CIA crowd, the Russians are also closely monitoring the situation, and by closely, we mean “ominously.” The Russians are obviously an enemy of this particular CIA team because of the brutal taking down of a Russian covet safehouse in the US at the beginning of the movie.
Special effects are excellent, an essential part of a modern action film. Fight scenes are particularly well choreographed, and we give top marks to the actors and stunt doubles for selling the realism of the fighting. Rated R, Mile 22 has plenty of violence and some graphic gore but misses a few opportunities to really gross out the audience when people get blown up. (We are not saying that is a bad thing, just that the gore could have been worse.) We are particularly impressed with the fight scenes featuring Lauren Cohan. Who knew she is such a bad-you know what? (Her character makes Maggie from The Walking Dead look tame.) Rousey’s role is understated but effective, and Malkovich plays the CIA boss with less flamboyance than usual, a measured and serious character ideal for the part.
Marky Mark is his usual wisecracking tough-guy self, but this time with some psychological quirks that go back to a childhood marked by hyper-thinking intellect and the loss of his family. His character is almost abrasive at times, making you almost not want to root for him, and then he redeems himself with selfless action. Wahlberg’s acting has matured to where he quite convincingly sells his character quirks. Obviously, we are fans.
Mile 22 is an exciting and action packed thriller full of gunfire, explosions, and terrific fighting scenes. Our test audience blatantly liked the film, so what is up with critics being lukewarm about the movie? We were certainly not disappointed and got exactly what we wanted to see, and eagerly await the possible follow on films that have been discussed as a possible franchise based on Mile 22. We enthusiastically recommend Mile 22 for action movie fans and especially fans of Mark Wahlberg. Enjoy!
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For more information, please see…
Jenkins, Tricia. The CIA in Hollywood: How the Agency Shapes Film and Television. University of Texas Press, 2016.
Weiner, Tim. Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA. Anchor, 2008.