What critics have to say about Mark Wahlberg’s ‘Mile 22’

Read the reviews (both good and very, very bad) of Marky Mark's newest movie.

Mark Wahlberg in a scene from "Mile 22." –STXfilms via AP

Mark Wahlberg has starred in some movies that wowed movie reviewers, like “Boogie Nights,” “Three Kings,” and “The Fighter.” He’s also been in plenty of films that absolutely bombed with critics, like “Max Payne,” “Broken City,” and two of the “Transformers” movies.

It appears Wahlberg’s latest, “Mile 22,” falls into the latter category.

The fourth collaboration between Wahlberg and director Peter Berg (following “Lone Survivor,” “Deepwater Horizon,” and “Patriots Day”), “Mile 22” tells the story of an elite tactical unit called Overwatch that operates above the law to keep America safe. Their latest mission is to transport an asylum seeker with critical information (Iko Uwais, “The Raid”)  the 22 miles from the U.S. embassy to a waiting military plane. Despite the best efforts of the Overwatch team, which includes Wahlberg, John Malkovich (“Being John Malkovich”), Lauren Cohan (“The Walking Dead”), and UFC star Ronda Rousey, things don’t go to plan.

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That’s not the only thing about “Mile 22” that didn’t go to plan, according to the majority of critics who wrote about the film. “Mile 22” had a 25 percent freshness rating on critical aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this article’s publication, with many of the “rotten” reviews reading very rotten indeed. That said, a few reviewers did enjoy the film, so in order to help you decide whether to check out “Mile 22” in theaters this weekend, we rounded up a wide range of reviews, both good and bad.

The Good

Writing for The Boston Globe, Tom Russo credited Berg and Wahlberg with creating an “addictively slick” action film in his three-star review.

Berg and Wahlberg deliver a relentlessly paced, addictively slick paramilitary thriller actively catering to fans of gonzo brutality and turbocharged machismo.

 

Owen Gleiberman of Variety said that “Mile 22” succeeds because it “aims a lot lower” than Berg and Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day” and its real-life seriousness.

It’s a spiky propulsive thriller, at once exciting and numbing, packed with weaponry — rocket launchers and chunky black machine guns — as well as hand-to-hand combat that’s marked by a quick-time viciousness. Berg, when he wants to be, is a surgical craftsman of chaos.

 

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said that from an action connoisseur’s perspective, he admired Berg’s ability to trim every last bit of fat out of the movie, leaving only “breathlessly, even beautifully expressed” violence.

Berg has been practicing and refining this mode of pared-to-the-bone filmmaking for a while now and he’s got little left to prove; after four films in five years with Wahlberg designed to put audiences through the wringer — Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day and now this — it’s clear the director knows how to cut to the chase and the bone. Unless you’re simply immune to the effects of high-adrenaline action cinema, it’s hard not to admire the super-charged effectiveness of Berg’s individual scenes.

The So-So

Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave “Mile 22” a C+ and characterized Berg and Wahlberg’s film as high on action but low on storyline. 

Mile 22, their latest collaboration following Lone SurvivorDeepwater Horizon, and Patriots Day, is crammed with tech-war jargon and black ops buzzwords. But I’m still not sure what it’s trying to say. It’s both a bit confusing and a bit confused. Fortunately, it’s also loaded with some of the crunchiest action scenes since the John Wick movies thanks to Indonesian martial-arts maestro Iko Uwais.

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Glen Kenny of Rogerebert.com wrote that the film has a “peculiar political undercurrent,” while also giving kudos to the action scenes featuring Uwais.

There’s a more than satisfactory amount of boom-boom in the movie’s trim running time—at 95 minutes, this is the shortest picture in the Berg/Wahlberg oeuvre.

The Ugly

Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times found the film incoherent, and said he feared for the exhaustion of the film’s editors more than anyone performing on-screen stunts. 

A testosterone cocktail of reactionary sound bites and incoherent action that even Michael Bay might have rejected as too amped, Peter Berg’s “Mile 22” makes for an appalling referendum on the state of commercial cinema in 2018.

 

David Ehrlich of Indiewire gave the film a D-, calling it one of the worst movies of the summer and lambasting Wahlberg’s character, James Silva.

At no point in this godforsaken movie does Silva do anything to suggest that he’s good at his job, or to otherwise justify the constant stream of verbal abuse that Lea Carpenter’s script gives him instead of a personality. Or a compelling motivation. … This is the flimsiest protagonist that Wahlberg has ever played, and we’re talking about a guy who’s starred in two “Transformers” movies.

 

Colin Covert of the Star Tribune refused to even categorize “Mile 22” as a film, giving it zero stars out of four.

If you think I am going to call “Mile 22” a bad film, you are wrong. It’s not a film at all. It is a cringe factory working on overdrive to churn out sadistic shocks and a generally malevolent tone.

 

Robert Abele of The Wrap panned Wahlberg’s testy, motormouth performance, wondering whether the actor’s recent choice in roles may eventually cause his star to fall.

Wahlberg’s monologues are so noise-polluting and self-consciously performed they’ll make you miss the days when action heroes were tight-mouthed mercenaries whose snarls, fists and derring-do did the talking for them. But they also provoke wonder that an actor who had once carved out a curiously sensitive masculinity on screen has somehow entered an action-spectacle rut that’s chipping away at his star appeal.

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