Saturday, August 18, 2018

Bore War: MILE 22

Peter Berg's latest Mark Wahlberg action movie has nothing going for it. Doing away with the patina of realism that partially excused the self-seriousness and hand-held grit of such jingoistic tripe as loose docu-thrillers Lone Survivor and Patriot's Day, and actually worked well in the ensemble based-on-a-true-disaster Deepwater Horizon, now leaves just nonsensical noise. The joyless and boring Mile 22 is one of those jangly, hyperactive, thinly developed and manically empty action films that usually head straight to cluttering the VOD listings and the DVD shelves of your neighborhood Wal-Marts, but somehow escaped to the big screen. It stars Wahlberg as a deep state covert-ops something-or-other who is always hollering as fast as he can through every scene. At one point in the early going he goes wild-eyed as he tosses a colleague's dessert on the floor and shouts, "No birthday cake!" Sounds funny, but movie is too grim and brisk to enjoy its own stupidity. He means business. Or maybe he just needs to check into an asylum for awhile. Anyway, his boss is John Malkovich, collecting an easy paycheck for sitting in a big empty warehouse with extras staring at computer screens. Theoretically they're surveillance assistance for Wahlberg's missions, but they mostly just sit there. I particularly enjoyed the one guy who chirps "social media is all clear" as if that's a big concern when planning extrajudicial raids. (I wonder if he gets jealous of the drone operator on one side of him and the traffic-light-changer on the other.) You can see the inanities piling up, even before you realize it's numbing. 

It is so quickly cut the DCP seems like it's playing at 2x speed (despite barely enough plot to fill half the time) and very nearly the entire 90 minutes are taken up by one hectic, incoherent action scenario intercut with flash-forward scenes of Wahlberg in close-up ranting and raving nonsensical faux-profound conspiracy gobbledygook made shallowly timely with lines like "you think you know collusion? You don't even know!" It's all shouting and shooting, gory explosions and a dull monotony of odious violence and ugly geopolitical assumptions. A cop in a foreign country -- vaguely labeled "South Asia" -- turns himself into the American embassy and has to be smuggled 22 miles out of the country with vital international security info. He's played by The Raid's great Iko Uwais, and if you think that means he'll have at least one good fight scene, you'd be right, although it's so short you can see most of it in the trailer. You'd think with a 16 Blocks concept potentially easily manipulated for suspense and one-thing-after-another action, a dependable team of craftspeople could make it work on even some basic reptilian level. Alas, the movie won't even get that simple idea right, loading up with endless cutaways and a rushed pace that just gets tedious. After a while I closed my eyes, curled up in my seat, and tried take a nap. If the theater had the sound down a smidgen, I might've succeeded.

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