IR Blu Ray Review: MILE 22 [STX/USHE]

The integration of global cinema is finding the right balance that appeals to all corners while still remaining edgy. For most places, this involves moving towards the center and not necessarily to the darker elements. Director Peter Berg seems in his movies with Mark Wahlberg (who also produces) to find that interesting mix between personal story, political underpinings and essential practical action. Their previous collaboration: “Patriot’s Day” was more specifically encompassed with a certain idea of an American style response within the Boston Massacre in a town that is very close to Wahlberg’s heart. But like Berg’s “The Kingdom”, what their latest “Mile 22” does is push the idea of the edge of the zone while still embracing new ideas. While Wahlberg is the marquee star here, it is the breakneck pace of the film which allows not just him but the other actors, especially Iko Uwais, the star of the breakout Indonesian action film “The Raid” to shine. The fact that this film can operate on that level as well as the film Wahlberg is trying to make is admirable. Some of the facts get muddled since the script is somewhat scitzophrenic and trying to move too fast but the action is just as frenetic and almost overtakes what Berg is trying to do. At its core, “Mile 22” is a stopwatch action film; point A to point B involving the need to deliver an asset. However using different places and streets to its advantage is key. As shown in the bonus features (and in its initial release) part of the big street scenes were shot in Bogota, Colombia. Having been to the city for a wedding, there is so much possibility to its back and main streets (although it is set to mirror at Southeastern Asian fictional city). Bogota is used to a point but also as a angle to bring more film production despite the country having a somewhat checkered tourism past from decade to decade. The stunts are interesting but most of the material on the Blu Ray was originally created as publicity material for the original release so no new material is here though what is included should be fodder for any regular cinema collector. Another stand out is Lauren Cowan, who brings to mind a 2018 version of Bridget Moynahan (who starred with Al Pacino and Colin Farrell in “The Recruit” in the early 2000s). This reviewer has not experienced her screen presence as Maggie in “The Walking Dead” but her steel here hopefully bodes for more focal elements on the big screen as well. “Mile 22” is an expert exercise by two filmmakers wanting to push the boundaries but also understanding the need for entertainment, however hard nosed, within the audience.

B

By Tim Wassberg

IR Short Takes: PATRIOTS DAY [CBS Films/Lionsgate]

IR Film Review: TED 2 [Universal]

ted2The problem when recreating a cultural hit is trying to do it again. It hardly ever works, especially with the best intentions. With the first “Ted”, the idea of a foul-mouthed talking bear was new because it worked as that joke. However, unlike “Family Guy” you need diversity. The problem with this type of film is narrative structure. It can’t simply be a collection of vignettes. This is how “Ted 2” starts off and for the first 20 minutes or so, it works. Ted is trying to have a kid. But McFarlane got sentimental and made it into a search for identity. I am all for these kind of existential journeys but that is not what this picture needs to be. We want to see Ted have his best friend’s son and watch the shenanigans. Instead, we get a bit of a replay or “Law & Order”. Now granted, they make fun of that too but watching Ted as a partial courtroom drama just doesn’t feel exceptional or particularly well thought out. When stage action progresses to a comic con, it just feels like lazy storytelling. McFarlane by extension seemed much more engaged by “A MIllion Ways To Die In The West” because it was a new sandbox to play in but the reception of that didn’t go over well. Plus the goodwill or Mark Wahlberg’s character splitting up with Mila Kunis is done extremely haphazardly. There was so much great opportunity for Meg insults that fans would have loved and Mila, even with her busy schedule, would have possibly been up for it. Instead we get Amanda Seyfried as a stoner lawyer working pro bono. She is not bad mind you but the progression just feels slightly off. Eventually the resolution comes in a way to where it needed to be in the first place without the shenanigans inherent. It just seems that that might have been a more fun ride.

D+