The visual coherence in Mile 22 is lost to machine-gun editing

Peter Berg’s enthusiastic embrace of being Michael Bay-lite continues full steam ahead. Here, he’s taken a fantastic plot set-up for an action flick, a few brilliant players, a hard R rating and squandered it all on a frustrating mess of a film.

There’s an impressively large amount of blood spilt in Mile 22, with bone breakings and headshots galore as fists, bullets and blades fly for most of the running time. Although the violence is nice and graphic, it’s always difficult to see who is shooting who, from what direction, at what distance and so on. Berg has clearly seen The Raid films and been influenced by them, but the visual coherence that makes those so great is lost to a machine-gun editing style.

That lack of clarity in the set-pieces is carried over to all other aspects of the film, most nauseatingly in the dialogue. The viewer is constantly thrown into conversations without a clear idea of what everyone’s talking about and then thrust back and forth from that into other scenes. Characters can be mid-sentence—even mid-word—when it cuts to someone in a different place saying something else. It’s done to give everything a chaotic, urgent feel—which it does, but the result is exceedingly unpleasant.

There’s also random bits of Marky Mark and John Malkovich opining over what’s going on as poetic narrators. There are references to Trump’s collusion with Russia, musings on the nature of special forces operations and the occasional proverb all thrown into this scrapbook mish-mash.

Wahlberg is grumpily squawking at his friends when he’s not shooting at his enemies. He even angrily smashes a birthday cake at one point, he’s so upset at the world. That’s kind of how I felt after watching Mile 22. Some of the action is cool and Iko Uwais is mint, but this is a bit of a waste.