Review: In ‘Mile 22,’ Mark Wahlberg, Patriotism and Paranoia


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.

The plot involves Mark Wahlberg as the principal member of a team of covert agents devoted to a “higher form of patriotism” and a level of violence we’re told most people find unpalatable. By the end, it’s clear that their solution to even the most incompetent uses of that violence is more violence. Nine pounds of a cesium isotope known as “fear powder” have gone missing. An informant (Iko Uwais, from “The Raid”) has the password to a disk with the locations but withholds it, pending his extraction from a Southeast Asian city where practically everyone in sight wants to kill him.

Got that? Good luck following Mr. Wahlberg’s expository slurry. His character is offensively labeled hyperactive, a condition treated less as a trait than an excuse for the actor to deliver his lines at the movie’s overheated pace. The operation is partly relayed from an ensuing internal affairs investigation, which the protagonist parlays into an opportunity to expound wildly on election hacking, collusion and Donald Rumsfeld’s unknown knowns.

The team members include Lauren Cohan as an agent who is threatening to grab a sledgehammer and an ice ax when not texting a cupcake recipe to her daughter. As a martial artist, Mr. Uwais appears quite skillful even when handcuffed to the loosed siding of an operating-room bed, but the cutting is so quick that it’s tough to say. You fear more for the editors’ exhaustion than any onscreen injury.

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