Kill For Miles

There are worse action films to rip off than The Raid

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Mile 22
Opens Friday 17

I’m not a fan of the Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg team. Their previous efforts — the Boston Marathon bombing drama Patriots Day and the disaster flick Deepwater Horizon­ — were competent, soulless recreations coasting on misplaced patriotism. And the less said of the jingoistic and repugnant  Lone Survivor, the better.

Here’s the good news: Mile 22 is better than any of those because it ditches flag-waving along with any pretense Wahlberg is ever worth rooting for. This puts the focus on Berg’s solid filmmaking and the wall-to-wall action, which is borrowed freely from the 2011 action-classic The Raid — along with unbeatable Raid star Iko Uwais.

Wahlberg is James Silva, the head of an elite ground force for when diplomacy fails and the military would be ‘too much’. Silva is a sociopath whose only concern is getting the job done. He’s the kind of person you want running a black ops mission but not at your birthday party. His team —John Malkovich, The Walking Dead’s Lauren Cohan and MMA star Ronda Rousey — is as single-minded, lethal and disagreeable as its boss.

The strike team must extreme-measure a whistle-blowing spy (Uwais) out of his fictitious South Asian country (cough, Indonesia, cough) so he can reveal the location of a lethal toxin being prepped for an attack on Americans. Silva must get this informer to an extraction point 22 miles away — a stretch peppered with highly-trained killers all armed to the teeth. Ruh-roh!

Mile 22 is as much Uwais’ and Cohan’s movie as Wahlberg’s. The Raid star is known for vertigo-inducing martial arts (which nearly go to waste here thanks to the film’s manic editing). Cohan is terrific as Silva’s second in command, who must stay focused as her personal life falls apart.

Wahlberg is not a likeable guy. He’s is at his best when he’s antisocial (see The Departed). Berg finally figured this out and gave his regular collaborator the freedom to be a total jerk.

Bookended by an intriguing framing device — Silva’s debriefing after the events — with mostly well-executed action set-pieces and actors playing to their strengths, it’s a bit of a shame Mile 22’s conclusion is a mess. I won’t spoil it, I’ll just say it’s reminiscent of a classic ending in Hollywood’s recent history and Mile 22 falls far short by comparison. The ending also suggests a sequel, which is presumptuous for an unknown product. Whatever happened to making self-contained movies?