Review – Not Quite Going the Extra Mile (“Mile 22”)

Stop me if you’ve heard this: a cop (or reasonable facsimile) has to bring an important person to a certain location while a bunch of bad guys, who’ve been tipped-off, are after them. Hmmm… oh, yeah! The Gauntlet, Safe House, 16 Blocks, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Transporter 3, etc.*Yawn* So much for originality, huh?
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Here’s the step-up: the American Embassy in Southeast Asia suddenly has a visitor by the name of Li Noor (Iko Uwais), a former cop that has a computer disc that contains vital intel on the location of stolen Russian Cesium 139 (aka fear powder). Looks like this stuff can make bombs “worse than Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined”. Noor’s demand? Get him on a plane for America and he’ll divulge the access code of the encrypted disc. Well, that shouldn’t be too bad as the plane is only 22 miles away (what is that, 16 blocks?).

Enter Overwatch, a clandestine covert team of ‘ghosts’ that consist of fast-talking, foul-mouthed, shoot-first, then shoot-again heroes for Noor’s transport to the airstrip. They are: ADD team leader James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), who always snaps a wrist rubber band to calm him, Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey), Douglas (Carlo Alban), and on-the-edge Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), who just wants to see her little girl again. BUT, the trip there is anything but cake & unicorns! Naturally, their sojourn has been intercepted by a bunch of hitmen and James & Co. are forced into a fire-fight gauntlet on the streets, and then into a safe-house (which ain’t exactly safe).

Needless to say, things go from bad to worse as they perilously try to get from point A to point B without getting seriously killed, just to bodyguard Noor and get him on that plane AND get that blasted code from him! So what do you get? You get Overwatch‘s ‘mother’ (John Malkovich) on the coms telling them where to go and how much time is left, as James and his team, fight off insurmountable odds on the road, in apartment buildings, and everywhere else. Whew! Oh, and look out for that ending, it’s a doozie!

First-time screenwriter Lea Carpenter has a firm grasp on the subject matter, but obviously saw all the other ‘gauntlet’ films (see above) as this one just mimics the others. Let’s face it, with films like these, HOW much riveting dialogue is there? This isn’t Mamet or Sorkin, just a series of F-bomb laced techno-speak that gets in the way of Peter Berg’s (Lone Survivor) incredibly faced-paced direction. Speaking of which, Berg heaps heavy dollops of his camera work into this film to dazzle (or confuse) your senses. Go-Pro, hand-held, computer-surveillance, and other camera tricks, combined with continuous whiz-bang smash-cuts & smash-edits, makes this a herky-jerky movie to watch.

Although the script is your typical ‘get the person to the location unharmed’, Berg ratchets-up the action to eleven with incredible firepower, blood, gore, ghastly deaths, and some decent fight scenes (Uwais in the infirmary is awesome), the only problem is, Berg cannot shoot a hand-to-hand fight scene well. Oh sure, his gun battles and street scenes are filmed decent enough, but anything close-order and personal and his camera work sucks. Waaay too many edits and close-ups! He should take camera lessons from Paul Greengrass or David Leitch for shooting excellent hand-to-hand fighting.

Wahlberg is in his element here as the strong, no-nonsense team leader, but Lauren Cohan (from TV’s The Walking Dead) steals his thunder as his #2, fleshing out her character beautifully as both a hardened soldier and a loving mother. Uwais reminds me of a young Chow Yung-Fat; charismatic and deadly, and MMA star Rousey is quite good here. Okay, you’ve seen this story before (did you catch all my Easter eggs in the review?), but for a wham-bam, mind-numbing afternoon at the movies, it’ll do.

The Gauntlet (1977)
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A cop has to deliver a witness to a certain location with bad guys on their tail? Now, where have I seen that before? Clint Eastwood and his go-to lady, Sondra Locke (they made six movies together), did this silly cop/witness on-the-run film, sandwiched in-between his highly successful Dirty Harry and western films. In fact, the character here resembles Harry Callahan, if not for all the stupid moves he makes.
 
Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, an ordinary Arizona Metro cop who is tasked with bringing a witness from Las Vegas back to their courthouse to testify against the mob. The witness, Augustina “Gus” Mally (Locke), is a feisty hooker with street smarts and is more than a match for the burned-out Shockley, who just wants to get the job done. In fact, he’s been set-up by his own boss, Commissioner Blakelock (William Prince), but Shockley’s too stupid to realize it. In fact, Mally figures it out before he does! Looks like Blakelock is the very man that the hooker is going to testify against, so he’ll stop at nothing to kill them both!
 
Shockley and Mally start their ill-fated road trip from Vegas (with a betting pool on them as well–100 to 1 odds they don’t make it!), which is fraught with cops galore trying to kill them, while the pair trade barbs at each other about who’s smarter. Spoiler alert: she is. They steal cars, chopped hogs, and finally a tour bus that Shockley plans to drive into downtown Arizona and up to the steps of the courthouse to deliver his witness.
 
Blakelock decides to end it all with a gauntlet of police firepower as the slow-moving bus drives through town. WHY Shockley decides to drive the bus 10mph is anyone’s guess… maybe for dramatic effect? Anyway, Blakelock is found out and gets his just deserts while Shockley and Mally walk away–bloody and banged-up–but alive and happy they made it. Yaay? 
 
Written by Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack, this lackluster Eastwood directed movie came and went without much fanfare. The original film was supposed to star (are you ready for this?) Marlon Brando and Barbra Streisand! I kid you not! Brando withdrew and was replaced with Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen. But Streisand and McQueen, being two A-type personalities, seriously clashed together, so the picture went to Eastwood and Locke.
 
Low budget and looking that way, the best thing about this film was the one-sheet movie poster, which was painted by legendary Frank Frazetta. It looks more exciting than the movie!   
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