Film review: New Mark Wahlberg movie Mile 22 vaunts brawn over brains
THE bromance of director Peter Berg and muscular leading man Mark Wahlberg has been going strong since 2013, when the two men ventured into war-torn Afghanistan for the explosive true story of Lone Survivor.
The Stars and Stripes fluttered proudly in two further tales of gung-ho, real-life heroism, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day, which demonstrated Berg's ability to deliver exhilarating, pyrotechnic-laden action sequences.
Mile 22 cranks up the on-screen violence, running gun battles and crunching car chases to an exhausting crescendo, stripping away plot and characterisation to cram as many slam-bang thrills as possible into 94 adrenaline-fuelled minutes.
Pulses undeniably quicken each time Berg orchestrates bruising fisticuffs between a team of elite US operatives and merciless gun-toting enemies, including a deadly game of hide and seek in a smoke-filled apartment complex.
The director is aided here by Indonesian actor and martial artist Iko Uwais, star of The Raid, who is a marvel of athleticism and gravity-defying acrobatics in hand-to-hand fights, including one punishing showdown while he is handcuffed to a hospital bed.
Screenwriter Lea Carpenter provides us with few protagonists to care about, least of all Wahlberg's mentally unstable sharp shooter, who barks rudely at figures of authority and is revered by his team because the only things he cares about are "actionable intelligence... and pain".
He plays James Silva, who leads a team of black ops soldiers code-named Overwatch, who undertake secret missions for the US government under the command of handler James Bishop (John Malkovich) aka Mother.
The squad tracks a stolen shipment of caesium to a Russian safe house on American soil.
Sixteen months later in Indocarr city, police officer Li Noor (Iko Uwais) arrives unannounced at the US embassy, claiming to know the location of the caesium.
He promises to share this vital intelligence as soon as he is safely on a plane to America.
Silva assembles his team to escort Li Noor along the 22-mile route from the US embassy to the airfield. Within a minute of speeding along city streets, Overwatch comes under attack from gun-toting motorcyclists and the fight for survival begins.
Mile 22 vaunts brawn over brains. Carpenter's script engineers a few twists in her undernourished narrative but it's easy to predict each double-cross.
Wahlberg's brute is deeply unsympathetic and co-stars barely have enough screen time to tell us their characters' names let alone dispense a credible back story.
When the cacophony of explosions abates, Berg's film evaporates instantly from memory.
MILE 22 (18, 94 mins) Action/Thriller. Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, Carlo Alban, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich. Director: Peter Berg
Released: September 19 (UK & Ireland)