- Photo by Murray Close
- Hey look! It's Mark Wahlberg, saving us all over again.
I think most can agree that Mark Wahlberg is a dick. Ignoring his apparently bottomless need to recreate American tragedies, he's obviously the guy who kicked sand in your face at the beach. This is a man who told Men's Journal in 2012 that he probably could have stopped one of the 9/11 planes from hitting the towers.
He's also a guy who's been busted several times for attacking minorities while yelling racist hate speech, including an arrest for attempted murder in 1988 when he assaulted a middle-aged Vietnamese man with a large stick, according to The Washington Post—in addition to several other arrests for assault. If Wahlberg had done all this crap when there was an internet, his career would be as dead as Kevin Spacey's.
The irony here is that Wahlberg and director Pete Berg have spent the last five years making what I like to call the "America, F*ck Yeah" series of movies in which Marky Mark plays a heroic badass fighting to keep our country safe from brown people and faulty oil rigs. The one-two-three punch of "Lone Survivor," "Deepwater Horizon" and "Patriots Day" makes it seem like Berg/Wahlberg are gonna be running for office in a few years.
As much as I liked those movies, "Mile 22" does something I really needed from this filmmaking team: making a no-frills action thriller less concerned with geo-politics and more focused on gunfights and explosions. Berg can direct the hell out of an action sequence, but all of his characters tend to sound like Alex Jones on anti-psychotics. A movie that just wants to blow stuff up in beautiful ways, while giving martial arts master Iko Uwais people to kick in the face, is OK by me.
The story is simple, with Wahlberg and his team of black-op CIA ninjas escorting a southeast Asian defector 22 miles through hostile territory. This gives the audience a chance to see Wahlberg do his impression of Ben Affleck in "The Accountant" and "The Walking Dead's" Lauren Cohan a chance to prove she's a damn movie star. As lots of heads and cars explode, we can enjoy the brainless action—as long as we try not to remember how much of a dick Mark Wahlberg was when he was younger.
"Mile 22" is one hell of a thrill ride, creating some of the most intense urban warfare sequences I've seen since "Black Hawk Down." The film will probably be forgotten by December, but it sets up future sequels in a genuinely entertaining way, leaving me excited for more while also hating myself just a little bit.