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Mile 22 – Movie Review

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Mile 22 – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy VVS Films

Peter Berg has lately shifted into directing docudramas that put us into the thick of the event, building tension as we see if the participants survive or not. Mile 22 is a fictional story, but Berg continues his current filmmaking approach and that allows for a successful action picture. The simplicity of the plot allows us to concentrate more on the set-pieces. The film give us just enough about the characters and then keeps us gripped during this operation. Whether through the gunfire or the hand to hand combat, Mile 22 is filled with some impressively choreographed sequences and then lets us leave before things get too silly.

One of the most refreshing aspects of Mile 22 is its brevity, as its 95 minute runtime is just the perfect length without overstaying its welcome. The plot is mostly an excuse for some remarkable action sequences where something from off-screen could shock the characters at any moment. Much like his docudramas, Berg allows us to get to know the characters as they plan their next operation. While most of the focus is on Mark Wahlberg’s James and Lauren Cohan’s Alice, there is proper attention given to others. Emily Skeggs, who impressed in the recent indie film The Miseducation of Cameron Post, is particularly memorable as one of the tech wiz members of the team. John Malkovich also delivers one of his more surprisingly understated performances.

Berg allows for a few dialogue-heavy scenes as a breather and to give the needed exposition, but most of the film’s success comes from watching the action unfold. Iko Uwais, playing the police officer the unit needs to smuggle out of Indonesia, also serves as the fight choreographer and he excels in mounting the battles that ensue. Mile 22 gives a healthy balance of gunfire and martial arts, avoiding the trap of the movie getting too repetitive. One of the highlights comes from an entire sequence set in an apartment building. This section is like its own mini-movie and is a thrilling use of space as we cut between the various agents.

The opening sequence inside a house provides a similar rush of excitement. Editors Melissa Lawson Cheung and Colby Parker, Jr. do a commendable job of splicing the action sequences and the sound team also deserves recognition for the various punches and explosions that litter the movie. The viewer is left on their toes just as much as the characters are, with no real certainty of when the antagonists will strike. The stakes are kept high as everyone is potentially at risk of dying before the end credits roll, creating the needed tension. Berg keeping the movie tight is a smart choice, as another filmmaker might have prolonged Mile 22 past the breaking point.

Mile 22 doesn’t aspire to be more than an action thriller that takes us from Point A to Point B, but Peter Berg understands the tone and directs it with the proper use of location. The central characters are properly set up to get us invested and the film never becomes confusing or too contrived. Every action scene has the needed interest level with potential threats coming from all around. This is a film that rests a lot on its technical elements and Berg has more than proven his ability at collaborating with editors, stunt teams, choreographers and sound mixers to create a movie worthy of the cinematic treatment.


Stefan Ellison

Stefan Ellison