Mile 22


            It's been all over the news about the Russians hacking into our computer systems, so it's not really surprising that a newly-released movie would feature.....the Russians hacking into our computer systems.  But even though the cloak-and-dagger stuff is mostly us versus some Southeast Asian police squads, it feels like we're viscerally, if not visually, creeping back to the Cold War days.

            Mark Wahlberg stars as James Silva, the head of an American top-secret commando unit---that can operate both inside and outside the USA, stopping terrorist plots wherever they find them.  And the first scene is in a quiet neighborhood, moderately prosperous but not too opulent, where a couple is walking toward a standard-looking suburban home, debating about whether they have the address right or not.  (She's carrying flowers.)  He wants to just knock on the door and ask; she wants him to go back to the car to check his phone information, and they carry on like this so convincingly you think they're any married couple arguing about nothing very important.  (You have done this yourself, haven't you?)

            Suddenly the whole scene erupts into a gunfight.  Turns out the house was being used by some Russian operatives as a base for spy operations, complete with fancy computer systems, and armed guards.  Like many flash/bang operations, this one doesn't go quite as planned.  People who were supposed to get captured get killed instead, including a very young Russian who, it turns out, is the son of a prominent Russian general.  But with all the flying bullets, we're not worried about that right now, we're just impressed with the level of technology we can bring to the party, including voice communication links, video surveillance, heat-sensing spyware, and yes, even spy drones.  

            The next hot spot is in Southeast Asia, where one unarmed man has crashed through the gates of the American embassy, with a computer disk in hand.  He keeps saying he wants assylum.  They won't offer it until he gives them the code to crack the computer disk, which was plugged into the system and immediately found to be a Trojan Horse.  He won't give them the code until he's on the airplane back to the United States.

            Meanwhile, his country's government operatives are insisting that we turn him over to them, which we don't want to do.  Finally, his 22-mile escort to the airport is arranged, but again, nothing goes as planned.  Lots of car chases, explosions, gunfights, and close-quarter martial arts.  Lots of adrenalin-rush combat scenes, and enough violence for any disaster movie, but through it all we keep seeing the Russians monitoring the situation, so we wonder what their involvement is----until we find out at the end.

            They try to add a little human interest----one of Silva's team is a woman (Lauren Cohan) with a young daughter, having to try to talk to her about a muffin recipe on her phone, frustrated about her ex's control over the situation.  But we aren't really here to discuss blueberries.  This is an action film, pure and simple.  It's short and to the point, and delivers what it promises.  The question is, how much did the Russians know, and when did they know it?


Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, DFW Film Critics Association