Directed by Peter Berg (known for a handful of other Mark Wahlberg movies such as Deep Water Horizon and Lone Survivor), Mile 22, set mainly in Indonesia, can be construed as a stereotypical action movie. However, there are definite artistic attempts to jazz it up that I think landed fairly well.
This film opens with an almost perfectly executed raid of a Russian FSB safe-house, where we get a glimpse of the action, violence, and team dynamic that this movie produces. The team is called Overwatch, a division of the CIA.
CIA agent James (Jimmy) Silva (Mark Wahlberg), is an eccentric, brilliant, and bipolar character that lives and breathes his job. He is fully committed to sacrificing for his country, although he often comes off as down right arrogant. It’s obvious that the thoughts inside of his head often move too fast, which comes through in his quick speech. He wears an elastic around his wrist that he frequently snaps. We learn that this was a gift from his mother, who told him, “Snap this when you can’t slow down.” Jimmy seems to try to tame his thoughts and use them productively in his career. Wahlberg, though playing a fairly typically role for himself, should be commended for his performance. The quick speech of Jimmy Silva was executed very well.
Fellow CIA agent Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan) is dedicated to her job but preoccupied with her daughter back home, as well as the heartache and complications that come with a family separation. She tries desperately to put her emotions aside but clearly struggles with the balance between motherhood and career.
The CIA is approached by Li Noor (Iko Uwais) who they were initially told was a low level cop, claiming he had the code to unlock precious information that the CIA needed. His request before providing the code was for asylum and for them to get him out of the country safely. Team Overwatch must transport Noor twenty-two miles to the airport and ensure he is protected. Forced to sign documents by the CIA before embarking on this mission, team Overwatch are told that they are now ghosts, no longer working under the government, and that this was the highest form of patriotism.
Most of the character development in this film was confined to fast clips and voice-overs during the opening credits. I could have used a bit more information about Jimmy’s past and why he is the way he is. And I wanted to know more back story on Alice’s family situation. I wanted to care more about her. At only ninety-five minutes long, I felt that they could have utilized more time to better establish the characters and hash out the plot more clearly. Instead, I found that some scenes were rushed through, causing occasional confusion.
In my opinion, the real star of the film was Iko Uwais. His action scenes were top notch and did not disappoint. Even his sly smile added to the scenes he was in. (Although, if you’re squeamish, you may feel slightly uncomfortable during a few of the action scenes in this film.)
A welcomed addition to the team was the ever intriguing John Malkovich, who played James Bishop, head of the Overwatch command centre, so to speak. He added the typical Malkovich flair without stealing the spotlight. Although I wouldn’t have complained if was in more scenes.
Cinematically, I was impressed with the extreme close-ups, fast cuts and lighting in certain scenes. And the sound editing, specifically with the snapping of the elastic against Jimmy’s skin, did not go unnoticed.
This film wasn’t perfect but, at the end of the day, I left the theatre entertained.