‘Mile 22’ review: A CIA action thriller with a feminist twist
In Peter Berg’s newest film ‘Mile 22’, Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey shine as the unsung heroes in the CIA action thriller.
While most CIA action thrillers are more geared towards men, with very few substantial roles for women, Peter Berg’s ‘Mile 22’ is different. Mark Wahlberg plays James Silva, an operative of the CIA’s most highly regarded unit that is on a dangerous mission. When a deadly amount or radioactive material goes missing, Silva and his crew of American intelligence agents seek out a foreign agent named Li Nor (‘The Raid’ star Iko Uwais) and must retrieve and extract him before the enemy closes in.
In typical Peter Berg fashion, the dialogue is quick and the shots were long with a style that is reminiscent of a documentary. This style of filmmaking has always been Berg’s staple, starting back as early as ‘Friday Night Lights’. However, what was different about ‘Mile 22’ was its strong female characters. Not to say that Berg hasn’t done projects with strong females in the forefront, he certainly has.
However what makes ‘Mile 22’ unique, in this facet, is it focuses on the balance between being a dangerous CIA operative and being a woman with maternal instincts and a caring demeanor. Most women we tend to see in these types of films are very one dimensional, attempting to hide anything that makes them different from their male counterparts.
The truth is, women always bring something unique to the table that men often cannot, and vis versa. Which is why it was so refreshing to see these powerful women depicted in a way that ignited emotion while still being highly skilled, intelligent and dangerous.
Specifically, the two women that really steal the show are Lauren Cohan and Ronda Rousey, who both play two of Silva’s fellow CIA operatives. Cohan plays Alice Curr, an overwatch operative and a mother whose home and family life is basically non-existent.
After what we can assume what was a nasty divorce, Alice and her ex argue on the phone over her mothering style or lack thereof. This is a character that clearly had a lot of pain and heartbreak in her past, and her attempt of needing to compartmentalize her personal and family life, while devastating, is an extremely realistic part of the job. Cohan is fantastic in this role, combining a sense of vulnerability with being fierce and impulsive.
Rousey also shines in only her third movie role as ‘Sam Snow,’ the tactical shooter of the team. With Rousey’s background being one of the best female UFC fighters in the world, one would think her character in a film about the CIA would be a fighter.
However, Rousey didn’t need those fighting scenes to prove her worth as an actress. In fact, it was a brilliant decision on Berg’s part to have her specialty be something other than combat fighting. And just like Cohan, Rousey brings a very important (but small) aspect of femininity to the role.
While her storyline is not as big or in depth as Cohan’s is, Rousey still brings a very clear sense of compassion to the role that most male characters do not. However interestingly enough, the characters of Alice and Sam were originally written as one, so it makes sense as to why there is a dichotomy between the two.
While the women were indeed one of the best parts of the film, so was Wahlberg, playing the unapologetic, in-your-face James Silva. Although reminiscent of some of his best roles, Silva’s character still brings out a part of Wahlberg that we have never seen before.
Similar to Russel Crowe’s character in ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ Silva also suffers from some kind of mental disorder (likely due to past trauma, which was briefly touched upon) where his brain process things at a much faster rate than most. Because of this, we see him constantly wearing a rubber band around his wrist, flicking it every time his mind spirals and he needs to be brought back to the moment.
On top of these three great performances, Iko Uwais is superb in the role of Li Noor. Not only did he make audiences continue to question his intentions throughout the entire film, but his fight scenes were by far the best. Uwais is definitely someone to look out for in upcoming action films, as his experience as a stuntman and acting chops make him the perfect candidate for more roles like this one.
‘Mile 22’ hits theaters in the US on August 17, in India on August 24 and in the UK on August 31!