Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg are becoming a fairly common director/star duo in action films. In recent years the pair has teamed up for Lone Survivor and Patriots Day, which were both well-received for the most part. Now they’re back with another action film, Mile 22. STX Films has positioned Mile 22 as the start of a trilogy for Wahlberg and Berg, and while there’s definitely room for this potential franchise to grow, the movie-going audience will decide if Berg’s latest has wings.

Mile 22 is a very familiar film in many ways, but it breaks away from the Hollywood norm as well. As a close-quarters action film, Mile 22 closely resembles the Bourne Identity franchise. There’s a lot of gun play involved, but thanks to The Raid star, Iko Uwais, there are plenty of intense martial arts sequences as well. This feels like the natural progression of the Bourne-style action film genre, although without some of the more intricate plot details the Bourne movies offer.

James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is a gifted agent working for a top secret branch of the military (isn’t that always the case). He leads a team that consists of other highly training military professionals, Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey), Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan) and William Douglas III (Carlo Alban), with an off-site operations team led by Bishop (John Malkovich) giving them a tactical view of the action. We only really get to know Silva and Kerr, but they each have a few moments to spout off some witty banter at some point in the movie. A bit more background on this group would’ve been nice to add some weight to the movie. There was definitely time to get to know the characters a little better, especially with the final runtime clocking in at a mere 95 minutes.

As it stands, most of Mile 22 revolves around Silva, Kerr, and double agent, Li Noor (Iko Uwais). Noor has information that the US needs to defuse a huge potential threat to the modern world. However, in order to get the information from Noor, he is requesting to be escorted to an airplane that will take him to the United States. Of course there are plenty of bad people who don’t want him to make it to the plane, and lots of bullets and fists are exchanged along the way.

The plot for Mile 22 is fairly thin. While that’s not a huge problem for an action film, the fact that we don’t even get to know most of the characters is an issue. In addition, this feels more like the first part of something greater, rather than a complete movie on its own. The ending goes against the Hollywood norm, which is fantastic, but the film as a whole isn’t satisfying enough to keep most audiences engaged.

With Uwais in the cast, the martial arts action is fast and frantic. However, many of the fight scenes are filmed with rapid cuts that will almost certainly lose half the audience. This isn’t uncommon for films of this nature, but when you’re working with so little, every bit counts. There’s a bigger picture in Mile 22, which is one of the reasons much of the cast is left without a proper back story. If this was an established franchise that might work, but as it stands it’s difficult to care about most of the characters and very easy to simply check out and watch the action unfold.

If you’re looking for raw, visceral action, Mile 22 delivers. It’s a little jumpy with a moderate amount of shaky cam footage to get the audience right in the middle of the action, and many of the scenes are brutal in their execution. Unfortunately, if you’re looking for anything more than three characters and a ton of action, Mile 22 falls a bit short. It’s still an enjoyable film, but easily forgettable after the credits roll. An extra 20 minutes of back story so you actually care about most of Silva’s team would’ve gone a long way here. Mile 22 is a decent film that could’ve been so much better with just a bit more story.

About Mile 22

Synopsis: An elite American intelligence officer, aided by a top-secret tactical command unit, tries to smuggle a mysterious police officer with sensitive information out of the country.

Director: Peter Berg

Writers: Lea Carpenter, Graham Roland

Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais

Rated: R

Runtime: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes