Film: “Mile 22”; Director: Peter Berg; Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais; Rating: ** (2 stars)
More than the basic plot premise which propels this pyretic action adventure into the zone of political ambush, it is the strenuous cultural inclusiveness of the cast that fascinated me. The leading man is a full-blown American who has collaborated four times previously with the same director. They are kosher in combat.
The main antagonist is an engaging Indonesian actor with a penchant for martial arts that comes in handy (and foot-friendly) in a deftly-staged combat sequence inside a medical facility where she uses blunt and sharp surgical instruments in ways the doctors could never imagine.
And then, when our own Poorna Jagannathan seen having a blast with Imran Khan in “Delhi Belly” shows up as the American ambassador, it is time to sit up and take notice of the film’s ethnic extravagance and how it is applied to the film’s procedural propensities as the plot moves with the precision of staged choreography from one smartly executed action sequence to another.
The plot about a double agent (Iko Uwais) who bargains for his physical safety in return of invaluable information on international terrorism, is a kind of road-rage adventure where cars jeeps, vans and mobikes collide and combust as if road safety were not a local but a global issue.
In all fairness, the action scenes in “Mile 22” are first-rate. Raw and relentless, they exude the stench of violence and the imminence of death with a heart-in-the-mouth splendour. In one shooutout in an apartment corridor, a little girl watches men blowing up the premise as if she was suddenly allowed access to violent entertainment by her out-of-residence parents.
If you are a connoisseur of choreographed combat, this film will thrill the hell out of you in spite of an abrupt anarchic script which insists on burdening itself with unnecessary complications. The character of Wahlberg’s female colleague Lauren Cohan is shown going through a rough divorce while the primary action in the plot.
The narrative intercuts into her domestic nightmare as if the intrusion is unavoidable. Which isn’t, really.
Director Peter Berg could have kept the narrative far less cluttered, though at 90 minutes of reel time, the misgivings that we may feel as viewers, just swish by barely giving us time to breathe before the next explosion.
“Mile 22” is not the 22 miles you would want to drive to see this. Maybe watching it on the home medium is a better option. But then the action sequences would diminish in importance. Is that a calamity or what?
(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at [email protected])