Having watched a my fair share of Asian action films over the last few years you start to see that in America we are often still moving with the training wheels on. It seems action here translates to big and bigger explosions with a lot of quick cuts to make things look better and faster than it really does. So what happens when you bring over someone like Iko Uwais and unleash him in what we call “action”? You get a movie like Mile 22.
A team nicknamed “Overwatch” are the people who you call when there is no one else can get the job done. The team on the ground is led by James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) who has a special way of thinking that makes him so good at his job. When Alice (Lauren Cohan), a member of his team has an asset named Li Noor (Iko Uwais) provide some, what seems like faulty intel, James starts to put pressure on her to fix it. Things become more complicated when Li shows up at the Embassy and requests asylum with the information they seek. However he has the info rigged and he won’t give them the way to unlock it until he is on a plane out of the country. So with the asset in hand, Silva and his team must make it 22 miles to save Li and to get what they need from him.
I was quite excited to see the magic that is Iko Uwais, based on his amazing work in the The Raid films and from the trailer for this film I was ready to go. Then I was quickly reminded that we are not in Asian cinema anymore, with the choice of how the action was filmed. It felt like a great lion had been declawed and sent out into the world, yeah he can still be a lion but not like he once was. Director Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Battleship), who seems to only make movies with Wahlberg now (this is their fourth in five years) doesn’t feel like he can handle the action speed of someone like Uwais. Instead of just letting the action unfold in front of the camera he tries, and fails at making it with Jason Bourne-esque quick cuts that mask what is really going on. He also takes what seemed like a story by Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland that had potential for some thrilling ‘point A to point B’ action and made it something akin to a direct-to-video film. When the first big action scene with Uwais stared to unfold, I got so disappointed at Berg’s choices and might have said a few curse words under my breath as I watched. Sure there are some good moments and most, if not all of them involve either Uwais or Cohan with the time spent on The Walking Dead has made her a natural ass-kicker now. What doesn’t work is mostly everything else thanks to Berg and Wahlberg who both do their best to make this film everything but entertaining. Mile 22 just feels like a what could have been, and what you get is a movie not worth going more than a mile to see.