Blu-ray Review: Mile 22

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Peter Berg is among the most viscerally exciting directors working today. His Patriots Day (2016) was a masterful docu-drama that not only brought suspense to a story most viewers already knew, it still packed a deep emotional wallop. Berg's films are always interesting and worth seeing, even when they aren't especially good (yes, EVEN Battleship). And Mile 22, his latest, isn't especially good.

Again though—still interesting and worth seeing. As an experiment (of sorts) in non-stop (nearly literally) action, Mile 22 is a suitably fast-paced adrenaline rush. In fact, the film is quite a blast to watch... until the realization hits, late in the film, that there aren't really any big plot twists or—truth be told—anything to sustain interest, other that the incessant rat-a-tat-tat rhythms of its gunplay. 

Mile 22 lauren cohen.jpg The plot unfolds in rather chaotic fashion, as U.S. special ops leader James Silva (frequent Berg collaborator Mark Wahlberg) and his cohorts—they're part of a super-secret government branch called Overwatch, led by "Mother" James Bishop (John Malkovich)—seek to disable a cell of Russian terrorists. At stake is a supply of caesium, a volatile chemical substance which can be weaponized and used as a radioactive explosive. Bishop, who calls his operatives by the code word "Child" (followed by a number; Rhonda Rousey turns in a credible performance as "Child 3"), directs the operation from a central hub. This device also allows Malkovich to sort of phone a performance from a very static location (he's still quite intense).

What is best about Mile 22 is the relationship between Silva and his primary Overwatch partner, Child 2," Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan of TV's The Walking Dead). The bond between them rings true and amidst all the clang 'n clatter of the ever-firing weaponry. The real camaraderie between the pair adds an emotional component that adds extra dimension to the pure action. And Cohan is superb—tough as nails, yet battling a complicated child visitation arrangement with her ex-husband (played by director Berg in a neat cameo).
Mile 22 rhonda rousey.jpg Universal Studios' Blu-ray edition of Mile 22 splits up a rather scant selection of bonus materials under a number of different headings. Though it only amounts to about 15 minutes of content, there are no less than seven featurettes here. Though they average only two minutes apiece, the coolest one is "Bad Ass Women," focusing on Cohan and Rousey and the intense physicality of their roles. And the DTS-HD MA 7.1 is satisfyingly aggressive.

Look, the story is sometimes confusing (but that seems to have been intentional, at least in part) and the action is so loud 'n proud it will inevitably grate on the nerves of more timid viewers. But if you (like me) loved Berg and Wahlberg's previous films together—Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, and the best film of 2016 Patriots Day—you owe it to yourself to check out Mile 22. It is undoubtedly the weakest of that quartet, but at 95 minutes it goes by fast and there are lots of great, bravura moments.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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