Director: Peter Berg.
Peter Berg and Mark Wahlberg team up again for their fourth collaboration after Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day. All of which are well made and worthy watches with Lone Survivor topping the three with Patriots coming in second; in my humble opinion. But this time they step away from the true stories and head into the dangerous and often fabricated world of espionage and national security. Not saying this is far-fetched, because it isn’t, well, maybe a little bit, but it has to be a fictitious story for obvious reasons.
A defected foreign asset arrives at the US embassy in some southern Asian country, carrying some vital information that poses an incredible threat to the national security of the US and the westernised world; demanding safe extradition and asylum to America in exchange for the password that guarantees his safety. Obviously, as the title suggest, there’s a 22 mile hike to the nearest airport and with the native government doing everything within their power to stop the transition, it’s going to be one hell of a bumpy ride. Knowing that conventional protocols and methods are not going to work, Overwatch, a covert team, are activated to make sure the package, the asset, gets to the airport in one piece.
Though seemingly linear and simple, it does provide an exciting premise that is like Richard Donner’s 16 Blocks but done in the style of one of Berg’s earlier films, The Kingdom. In fact, there’s a number of resembling features from Berg’s previous action thriller which I will get to shortly. Surprisingly, the plot isn’t so linear as one might expect offering a little something more than just an explosive race to the airport. There’s a slight intrigue but it does lack the suspense and tension a film like this deserves.
Overwatch are a team of black op elite paramilitary agents from the Special Activities Division, that act far and beyond any government sanctions to ensure the safety of the country. A team lead by James Silva, a mentally unstable, unhinged, borderline sociopath who displays little, if any, empathy for what he does. Think Ben Affleck’s Accountant but only constantly highly strung and incredible vocal about it. He’s a fast-talking, short tempered, ticking time bomb, and Wahlberg plays his part perfectly well; the part was written with him in mind. The story gives Wahlberg more than a few occasions to exercise Silva’s aggressive venting; particularly when he’s explaining the potential outcome of someone not having enough time to do a job.
The asset is Li Noor, an elite forces agent turned rogue who is trying to help the Americans prevent mass destruction. Iko Uwais plays Noor in what is probably his best dramatic performance to date. Made famous by both of Gareth Evans’ Raid movies and those that know, know Uwais is an absolute force to be reckoned with; and whilst he does do his trademark fighting, it’s not his best. Even the casting of Ronda Rousey might be misleading, in the hopes we see her perform some nasty hand-to-hand combat.
TWD’s Lauren Cohan does an impressive job of playing Silva’s right hand woman and probable favourite; is definitely a character drawn from Jennifer Garner’s part in The Kingdom. There’s even a similar situation with an oversized, overbearing foe that’s almost an exact copy of the fight Garner encounters. But putting comparisons aside, Cohan plays a convincing operative both physically and emotionally.
Malkovich does his usual in taking a back seat like his has done with the majority of his recent films, but he serves his part well enough to be remembered. Carlo Alban deserves a mention, who plays another Overwatch operative and does well to mingle and mix with the bigger names on the roster. A mostly silent character, but he’s afforded enough moments to warrant a mention here. Overall, I really liked all the characters, but it’s Wahlberg’s Silva that just pushes everyone else out the way, literally.
I know I said this isn’t too far fetched but there are a number of unrealistic scenarios and confrontations that are obviously for dramatic effect; I can’t imagine these scenes ever actually happening in real life and certain parts bared a resemblance to classic westerns with stand offs and sacrificial shoot outs. The action is violent, hard and is like being hit with a blunt instrument; but the editing is a little too flashy and doesn’t really do Uwais’ Silat talents any great justice. As is the script; whilst superbly written, it’s sharp and just as explosive as the action, but at times it’s too quick and incoherent.
Overall, the film is captivating enough to make this very entertaining from start to surprising finish with this being a possible start to a new franchise as Wahlberg has announced at CinemaCon that this could be the start of a trilogy. Though, sadly, it’s the worse of the collaborations but let’s hope for better things. Just get the editor to lay off the coffee for a bit.
Running Time: 8
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 6
The Extra Bonus Point: 0