Mile 22 is the movie that makes you ask: Is Mark Wahlberg getting paid by the word or the pyrotechnic displays? In either scenario, he’d stand to make a windfall while playing Jimmy Silva, the head of an elite team of CIA commandos who are trying to save the world by running a rogue, off-the-books operation called “Overwatch” that gives the government plenty of plausible deniability but not a lot of good results.
Hollywood has acquainted us with the strong, silent protagonist; Mile 22, by contrast, brings us the perpetually annoyed, rapid-rapping Silva, who has the annoying habit of snapping a rubber band against his wrist. The movie snaps back and forth between the operation and a debriefing by Silva’s CIA superiors, which gives him the opportunity to talk even more, but also foreshadows for the viewer that something has gone way wrong along the way.
There are two key events upon which the story is framed. The first is Silva’s agents taking down a Russian safehouse, killing everybody they were merely supposed to arrest, in the movie’s opening sequences. The second is Silva’s agents racing against time to extract a Southeast Asian asset—a “corrupt, low-level cop” with sensitive information—out of fictional “Indocarr City” and to a small airstrip 22 miles away, where he can take off to America. The asset, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), has agreed to reveal where nine pounds of stolen weapons-grade, radioactive cesium—”enough to make six major cities uninhabitable,” Silva says—has been secretly distributed to attack the U.S. Plenty of bad guys try to stop Li along this little obstacle course. And that’s pretty much the movie, with one little twist I shan’t reveal here.
Mile 22 doesn’t come close to making the most of its cast—MMA star Ronda Rousey is wasted, as is talented John Malkovich, who is reduced to mostly voiceovers by radio while guiding the team from the safety of headquarters. Even Wahlberg could stand less caffeinated dialogue and more action. Lauren Cohan (Maggie from The Walking Dead) tries to contribute to the team while conducting a bitter custody battle with her ex that seems bizarrely out of place, given that these are supposed to be double-secret killers, with no time for the inconveniences of real life.
It’s a fast-paced, fiery, furious and often foul-mouthed piece of cinema that sent our Dove seals fleeing from consideration, covering their ears and eyes from the outset.
The Dove Take
They fight, kill and swear indiscriminately, which is grounds enough for seal disqualification. When they’re not swearing, the movie lover in you will groan at dialogue cliches like “failure is not an option.” It was a readily available option for the filmmakers, who fail to stitch together a top-notch thriller or impress viewers that such a concept was even considered.