With a few specks of individuality, Mile 22 is enough to stand out from the crowd. Even if that is just John Malkovich’s life-battered face
Seemingly at first a carbon copy action film, Mile 22 manages to bring out enough personality and independence to hold its own against features with a similar output. Helped in part by a not-particularly-well-acted but nicely defined character in Mark Wahlberg’s James Silva, and John Malkovich’s never tiresome bizarre screen presence, Mile 22 has its goals and reaches them, albeit far slower than the car chases would have anyone believe.
James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is part of an undercover team given only the most difficult, important and dangerous tasks to carry out. So when Indonesian police officer Li Noor (Iko Uwais) offers himself to the U.S. embassy, demanding safe passage to America in exchange for top secret information, Silva and his team are immediately dropped into the project, safeguarding Noor until he reaches his flight on the other side of the city.
The pace at which the characters talk, the cars drive and the scenes flicker from one to the next is a particularly misleading set of tropes, and by looking past this quick facade, there’s a layer of ‘action film bullshit’ lathered on thicker than first appears. A film like Mile 22 was always going to struggle to avoid this and it shouldn’t necessarily be marked down for covering it up fairly well. It would be a natural improvement however, if it was 100% clear what the script was trying to say, 100% of the time.
Mark Wahlberg is effectively himself, talking fast, but the others around him offer enough support to carry Mile 22 through, and John Malkovich will never not be a fascinating man to watch, on so many levels; There’s even the question as to why he loves roles in a suit now? It’s hard to stand out in the action crowd, and managing to hire John Malkovich seems to be one of the key options the cleverer films love to choose (see Unlocked, 2017).
Mile 22 a mission going from A to B, with a lot of talking in between, and however much it’s hyped, it’s something the world has seen 100 times over. But, with a few specks of individuality, Mile 22 is enough to stand out from the crowd. Even if that is just John Malkovich’s life-battered face.