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Mile 22 (Mark Wahlberg) - Review

Mile 22

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

PETER Berg’s fourth collaboration with actor Mark Wahlberg is arguably one of the most pumped up, aggressive action films you’re likely to see in a long time.

A lean, mean thriller that is the first of their collaborations – after the excellent Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day – not to be based on a true story, this nevertheless lifts from real-world politics and history to offer a cautionary tale, of sorts, about American military ego and the ethics of killing.

Based on an original script by the spy novelist Lea Carpenter and former US Marine and Jack Ryan executive producer Graham Roland, this finds Wahlberg heading up a team of the CIA’s elite Ground Branch, who are called in to solve problems when diplomacy and military options have failed.

Temporarily stationed in the Southeast Asia country of Indocarr, Wahlberg’s spook James Silva is called into action when a police officer, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), holding the key to defusing a terrorist threat that could be worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined, hands himself into the US authorities demanding safe passage to the US.

Together with his elite team – including Lauren Cohen’s Alice Ker and Ronda Rousey’s Sam Snow – Silva must escort Noor across 22 miles of the city to safety, only to face multiple assassins along the way.

The ensuing film is a breathless race against time in which Berg refuses to take his foot off the gas. Rather, he directs in a way that feels like Paul Greengrass (of Jason Bourne fame) on steroids. The action, once it begins, is relentless and delivered in a clinical, no-nonsense and ultra violent kind of way.

It’s also heartless. Berg is no slave to sentiment, opting instead to kill off as many good guys as bad ones. He also acknowledges the cold blooded nature of the profession he has chosen to highlight, as well as the moral and ethical grey area in which it exists. His film seems designed to be gasp-inducingly cold-blooded.

But therein lies a lot of its fascination, beyond the exhilaration of seeing how he orchestrates the many action sequences. Mile 22 is a ruthless examination of the morality of killing, as well as a sly nod to the dangers of ego – both human and military.

As impressive as some of the hardware and technology is on show, mistakes cost lives and a split second hesitation or wrong pull of the trigger can have disastrous consequences further down the line.

Hence, there’s a lot to keep up with, as Berg even constructs any dialogue-heavy scenes at breakneck speed, thereby playing to Wahlberg’s motor-mouthed and, yes, egotistical strengths. It’s another kind of guilty pleasure to see him dressing down colleagues or psycho-analysing his foe, without ever striving to be liked.

Of the support cast, ex-Walking Dead luminary Cohen gives her all in a gutsy female action role, while Uwais, of The Raid fame (to which this film also owes a debt of inspiration), is as kick-ass as you might expect – his bone-crunching encounter in a hospital is particularly breath-taking.

A deliberately open-ended climax also paves the way for a sequel that we really hope will happen.

Mile 22 won’t cater to every taste, given its reliance on gung-ho rhetoric and ramped up action sequences, but it remains a guilty pleasure. Taken at face value, it’s a breathlessly exciting action thriller that offers a genuine adrenaline rush.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: September 19, 2018