The reason to see “Mile 22” is not because Mark Wahlberg is convincing as fast-thinking, fast-talking super secret ops guy with big guns–James Silva. See it for Iko Uwais’ charismatic performance as the “package” that Silva and his band of brutish buddies have to get to an airstrip 22 miles away from the safe house.
The movie actually begins with a well-to-do white couple looking for a white house on Christmas Street or was it Christmas Boulevard or Christmas Place? The house they find themselves in front of is a lovely pale blue two-story Colonial on a spacious lot with an unfenced backyard that opens up into a wooded area in New England. They knock on the door. In the back, however, we get our first glimpse of Silva (Wahlberg). He has a heavy duty automatic weapon and he’s not alone.
Silva is also not without some technological backup–one that monitors each team member by name and provides their vital signs. The house is under surveillance from the air; movement and body heat can be detected. The couple aren’t really lost; they’ve found a Russian cell and during the take down things go wrong. The objective changes from capture to kill. An 18-year-old man is among the dead.
From there, we are quickly given Silva’s background. As a child, his problem was he was smart (“Your mind just moves faster than the other kids”). He’s orphaned but somehow comes out of that okay except with anger management issues which he barely controls with snapping a band against his wrist. Just what we need a man with an eruptive temper with access to high power weaponry. Let’s think that one out.
Silva served in the military–five tours in Afghanistan. He’s been recruited by the CIA as a member of a secret tactical command team that operates outside of the law–national and international. But unlike the latest iteration of “Mission: Impossible,” with much less humor and a lot of monologuing between the bloody brutality.
While Silva is leader of his team (of course!), he’s not the head man who is James Bishop (John Malkovich). Over their communication networks, Bishop’s code name is “Mother” and each on-the-ground team member is “Child.” There’s a hint here that you’ll understand at the end.
This is a co-ed team and some of them are actually mothers, such as Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey) whose daughter India (Elle Graham) we see only on her cellphone. India is being raised by Sam’s ex-husband and stepmother. Sam’s communications are censored and the scriptwriters make sure she is just as good at cursing as Silva.
Silva isn’t a nice guy. He isn’t wittily wicked. He’s just aggressive and arrogant and he talks a lot. Without a likable central character, you don’t have much more than a mission. Silva’s job “is to prevent the end of tomorrow.” The house on Christmas Street was not a successful mission and this sends the team off in search of a deadly substance and they find a smart supposedly low level police informant who won’t tell them how access the information they need unless they get him out of the country. As the minutes pass, another program will self-destruct the drive with the info. This is like Mission: Impossible in the reverse.
To get this double agent (Iko Uwais) out of the country, the team must protect the “package” for 22 miles. Not all of them will survive and some of the team will do suicidal things to protect their “package” but is this so different from terrorism? The foreign city they are in gets pretty shot up.
Uwais is the tall silent type and the scene where’s he’s attacked by assassins is the movie’s best. This is the only reason for this movie to exist.