For their fourth collaboration in five years, director Peter Berg and star Mark Wahlberg veer slightly away from the "patriotic true-story" sub-genre of Lone Survivor (2013), Deepwater Horizon (2016) and Patriot's Day (2016) to deliver this fictional patriotic action thriller, which asserts real-world relevance by casually throwing out terms like "collusion" and "election-hacking".
Often frustratingly soft-spoken elsewhere, Wahlberg offers up his liveliest performance in ages as James Silva, the manic, jabberjaw leader of an ultra-secretive, ultra-effective paramilitary unit that gets its orders from the CIA. In an unnamed Southeast Asian country, Silva and his team must transport an asylum-seeking informant the titular distance to a waiting plane in order to gain critical intelligence. Many, many bad guys will try to stop them.
The informant is played by Indonesian actor/martial artist Iko Uwais, star of action cult hit The Raid. Although he's "the package" in this particular set-up, the film gives Uwais plenty of reasons to deploy his particular set of skills, which remain as stunningly cinematic as ever.
Indeed, more so than I anticipated, Mile 22 is an impressively bad-ass, hard-edged action movie, effective enough to justify its brazenly fascistic world view.
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It opens with an intensely palpable house assault sequence, briefly pauses for Wahlberg to yammer on like he's never yammered-on before (it's actually quite funny), before heading into the main gauntlet run, an epic set-piece that takes up the final third of the movie and evokes everything from the legendary Heat shoot-out to the martial arts savagery of John Wick.
The strong supporting cast does good work, in particular The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan, who makes a strong case for her own movie stardom here.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, John Malkovich, Lauren Cohan
Director: Peter Berg
Running time: 94 minutes
Rating: R16 (Graphic violence and offensive language)
Verdict: No-nonsense fascistic fun.