THRILLER “MILE 22” TRAVELS A TOUGH PATH; “LODGE 49” ON TV
A Film and TV Review by Tim Riley
MILE 22 (Rated R) With a 95-minute running time, “Mile 22,” directed by Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor”), is on a tight leash for the explosive action in a foreign land that runs at breakneck speed with a minimum amount of downtime. The prologue sets the pace when a team of covert agents, led by James Silva (Mark Wahlberg), conduct a raid on a Russian safe house in an American suburb and end up in a deadly shootout. To get the idea that Silva is a fighting machine with smarts, we learn a bit about his troubled childhood and propensity for violence. But he’s also a savant pouting off about world affairs, history, and other weighty matters.
For a trained covert agent, Silva is talkative and animated, often rubbing people the wrong way. No wonder someone calls him bi-polar. Yet working with his close colleague Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan), Silva’s all about the mission.
Silva’s elite paramilitary team ends up in Southeast Asia in the fictional country of Indocarr, where the objective is to transport a foreign intelligence asset to an airfield for an extraction located 22 miles from the U.S. Embassy. The asset is Li Noor (Iko Uwais, “The Raid” films), an officer of the local Special Forces who has been spying for the Americans and holds the key to disabling a program that would launch a terrorist attack. In exchange for the vital information, Noor demands immediate relocation to the United States, at which time he’ll turn over the intelligence. Silva and his team are the only ones capable of completing the task of the urgent mission.
A commanding officer tells Silva’s team if they fail, “you will be responsible for the single largest intelligence fumble since a flight instruction school in Florida failed to grasp the significance of a 19-year-old terrorist saying he didn’t need to learn how to land.” Well, failure is not an option for someone like Silva or his equally tough partner Alice. Yet, navigating the streets of the densely urban city is extremely perilous when bands of lethal mercenaries on motorcycles as well as police and military engage the Americans in fierce battles.
For his part, Noor quickly establishes his martial arts skills in a well-choreographed fight with two assassins that infiltrate the Embassy’s infirmary. Even when handcuffed to a gurney, Noor is a deadly force to be reckoned with. The transport operation in a hostile foreign territory is so fraught with peril that the members of Silva’s team have to resign from government service. This closely parallels what’s required of Tom Cruise’s clandestine squad in the “Mission: Impossible” films.
Pulling the strings behind the scenes is a secret group called Overwatch under the command of Bishop (John Malkovich), who is often called Mother. Watching them in action with computers is about the only time the fast-paced action takes a break. While “Mile 22,” even with its spectacular chase scenes and brutal gunfights is not on par with the recent “Mission: Impossible” films, it certainly does hold the attention of action fans to enjoy an explosive thriller.
“LODGE 49” ON AMC
Pinning a label on AMC’s new series “Lodge 49,” which blends quirky comedy with drama, may be hard to do, and even AMC comes up with its description as a “light-hearted, endearing modern fable set in Long Beach, California.”Whatever it may be, “Lodge 49” is an almost mystical journey about a disarmingly optimistic, yet down-on-his-luck, the surfer named Sean “Dud” Dudley (Wyatt Russell), who’s drifting after the death of his father and collapse of the family pool cleaning business.
A likable character that drives a vintage yellow VW Thing and hangs out at the local donut shop, Dud keeps breaking into the old family home that was sold in foreclosure only because he has no other place to go.
Meanwhile, his sister Liz (Sonya Cassidy), who does not share Dud’s sunny disposition, is waitressing at a local tavern and at least has her own apartment. Dud ends up on her sofa as a last resort. On one sunny day, as his vehicle stalls, Dud serendipitously finds himself on the doorstep of a rundown fraternal lodge, where a middle-aged plumbing salesman and a “Knight of the Order,” Ernie (Brent Jennings), welcomes him into a world of cheap beer and easy camaraderie.
During the summer TV press, show creator Jim Gavin lamented that social media arms people with “digital hate cannons,” while the Lodge is “a place where different types of people can actually meet face-to-face.” Since Dud doesn’t have a cell phone and can’t even get the local pawnbroker he routinely insults to take any valuables, home of the Ancient and Benevolent Order of the Lynx seems like the place to be regardless of the pushback from his skeptical sister. As observed by the show’s creator, there is a mysterious aspect to the Lodge and “the history of alchemy will send us on different paths and quests.” One may have to ponder the philosophical facets of “Lodge 49.”