Directed by: Peter Berg
Screenplay by: Lea Carpenter
Story by: Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland
Produced by: Mark Wahlberg, p.g.a. Stephen Levinson, p.g.a, Peter Berg, p.g.a
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Lauren Cohan, Iko Uwais, John Malkovich, Ronda Rousey, Carlo Albán, Natasha Goubskaya, Chae Rin Lee, Sam Medina, Keith Arthur Bolden, Jenique Hendrix, Billy Smith, Myke Holmes, Emily Skeggs, Terry Kinney, Brandon Scales, Poorna Jagannathan, Peter Berg, Elle Graham and Nikolai Nikolaeff.
There’s no holding back in this action packed, political spy-thriller.
With blood and high-tech computer-based espionage shown through images captured by drones circling the sky and hand-held cam shots up close to see the visceral, at times, cringe worthy throat-cutting on gagged windows (yeah, ouch!) – I was completely enthralled with this intelligent and oh so believable military operation.
Based on the paramilitary unit within the CIA’s Special Activity Division, Ground Branch, James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) is team leader of Overwatch, a quick reaction force activated by ranking officer, Bishop (John Malkovich) when radioactive powder disks used to make dirty bombs go missing.
When a double agent forces his way to the American Embassy in South East Asia (fictional country of Indocarr) claiming to have intel on where the powder is located, the team must get Li Noor (Iko Uwais) to the airstrip for safe evacuation before he’ll give up the codes to access the intel, all while enemies stop at nothing to take the team down.
So there’s plenty of action, but also a lot of focus on character.
Opening with Jimmy’s, (James Silva) background as an orphaned gifted-child, the film paces through his history like flicking through a deck of playing cards at a casino.
And the whole movie flies, each scene getting more bloody as the plot adds layer upon layer while Child 1, AKA Silva throws out statements like, ‘No birthday cake!’ to one of his team when they meet to discuss the loss of the powder, on the agent’s birthday, while constantly flicking an elastic band on his wrist, the shock of pain supposed to keep his temper in check, but mostly adding a disturbing smack to his words – an indication of explosive violence barely held in check: brilliant.
Director Peter Berg loves his action thrillers his last three based on true stories (think, Patriots Day, Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon). Here he returns once again collaborating with Wahlberg, this time making a film from fiction from first time screenwriter, Lea Carpenter.
I’d love to see more writing from Carpenter. And seeing Wahlberg as an ‘arse hole’ was gold: he’s so nasty it’s funny.
The characters were all bad-arse, with Alice (Lauren Cohan) as a mother dealing with her ‘fuck wit’ ex as tough as the rest, the threat of I’ll go get, ‘a sledgehammer and ice axe and fuck you up’, a believable statement.
Violent, hard-arsed characters in action flicks can feel try-hard but not here.
And Indonesian actor Iko Uwais as the double agent on the road to betray his country was a pleasure to watch as his martial art fighting style erupts in stark contrast to his finger tapping meditation technique used to keep calm and get the job done.
There’s biometrics, drones, shots from car windshields, explosions – Doug Fox, who pulls double duty as both prop master and lead armorer says, “For this movie, we’re in the neighborhood of 50 weapons […]. That includes machine guns, M-4’s, AK’s, and Uzis; we also [had] to ship 40,000 rounds of blank ammo.”
Just to give an idea of the amount of carnage.
And there’re flash forwards to Jimmy explaining in post-operation interview the unravelling of events as the four operatives transferred the Asset, 22 Miles, in 38 minutes.
A simple concept, with many layers, so believable and so very violent – loved it.
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