FRIDAY, AUGUST 17, 2018 -- One can make just about any conspiracy theory film exciting with just the right amount of treachery and deceit and a bunch of action. And no action is more fun when one man beats the snot out of many.


It's what made the old Bruce Lee films so much fun to watch because it seems so unbelievable. These days we've got Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt and John Wick to do the damage with the results being theater grosses in the hundreds of millions. Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, and Keanu Reeves...humph.


Peter Berg got hold of a story written by Lea Carpenter and Graham Roland that revolves around Russian interference that may lead to the release of radioactive material in various big cities. Well, that sounds familiar... but this time instead of sending in Cruise or Damon, Berg chose his favorite action hero...Mark Wahlberg.

Wahlberg plays James Silva, a American covert operative who is a bi-polar since childhood. His ability channel his anger to administer pain and death made him the perfect person for the government to convert into an undercover killing machine for an agency called Overwatch. When some radioactive material goes missing, his boss, Bishop (John Malkovich) brings him in to save the world by transporting the one guy who knows the details of the stuff.


The problem is this guy, named Li (Iko Uwais) won't tell the agency the code to unlock a hard drive that has all the answers. At least he won't tell them unless the Americans get him out the country. What country, is irrelevant, it looks South American (it was filmed in Bogota Columbia) but has an inordinate number of east Asians running around. Anyway, Li wants out and Silva has to transport him to an escape plane 22 miles away that's ready for take off.


Assisting Silva is his regular partner Alice (Lauren Cohan) who is so hard core that her ex-husband has custody of the children. Tagging along is Sam Snow (Ronda Rousey), Axel (Sam Medina) and a couple of other disposable actors. What they all find out is that Li isn't some helpless punk. He dispatches a couple of would-be assassins out to silence him. The rest of the film is them trying to traverse this 22 mile route with everyone coming after them much like the 2006 film "165 Blocks" with Bruce Willis transporting Yaslin Bey,


The biggest problem with the movie is the story, that is never quite clear on anything - we know there are some Russians involved and Donald Trump is about to meet with the North Koreans. There are more twist and turns into dead ends than the law allows. For example, how did Li get hold of the drive and how does he know the code? But those questions are blanketed by a lot of hand-to-hand fighting, shoot outs and explosions. But it all seems to be leading up to one moment.


Since the bad guys have already hacked into the hack-proof system of Overwatch and know every move that will be made, it's hard to figure out who is who. But it all seems to be leading up to one thing... the big fight at the end by the only two people left to fight. Well, that ending adds a few more twists that will probably make you groan. But Wahlberg plays a tough as nails operative. Rosey plays a tough as nails soldier. Cohan plays a confused, troubled agent partner, Malkovich plays a nonchalant agency boss and Uwais kicks utter ass.


This is more "The raid: Redemption" meets "Max Pain" with a couple of tough-ish women. (Rousey is really underused.) Make no mistake however, it is Uwauis who owns the action while Wahlberg does his best nutjob routine.


"Mile 22" is one of those save-the-world, conspiracy actioners that has enough butt-kicking action to make you overlook the convoluted plot. Iko Uwais rocks!   -- GRADE C+ --   GEOFF BURTON