Film Review: Mile 22

Friday night's cinema trip saw Mark Wahlberg monologuing his little socks off through this espionage-action-thriller. Catch up on the trailer below:

After some character introduction, scene-setting and plot exposition the movie eventually gets to the crux: an asset needs transporting twenty two miles (ah, right) to an extraction point. This (probably not a spoiler) doesn't go entirely to plan. John Malkovich tells them they need to get there quickly; no delays. There are plenty of delays and they, naturally, get there just in time.

It's a pretty violent film with guns, explosions, blood, death and some pretty impressive martial arts scenes courtsey of Iko Uwais (fans of The Raid movies will recognise this name). There's a decent core story delivered by some famous names (Lauren Cohen will be a lot more famous in my head once I've finally got around to watching The Walking Dead), and on the whole I enjoyed the experience.

That said, there's a lot of padding for such a short movie (94 minutes). There's a sort of narrative device which sees Wahlberg popping up every so often part-way through an interview which is evidently a post-balls-up inquiry. This goes nowhere. His character's super-intelligence and the fact that he's somewhere on the autistic spectrum is regularly mentioned, though this has no bearing on the plot other than to be occasionally used by the other characters to explain away him being an arsehole at points. There's a nuclear weapons/ terrorism backdrop which also doesn't really come to anything and appears to be a bit of a red herring to draw viewers away from the plot twist, which really isn't groundbreaking enough to require being drawn away from.

Also, it's pretty derivative. There's a street shootout that isn't quite Heat. Uwais runs around an apartment block decking people with cool moves, but it isn't The Raid. There's even a little Ronin in there somewhere.

Ignore all that, though, and it's not a terrible way to spend 94 minutes if you're into action movies and like a bit of Wahlberg. It's forgettable, a bit confusing at points, and probably has some enormous plot holes if you think too deeply about it, but if a bit of Friday night violence is your thing, it's better than heading into town and baiting the big guy at the bar, and you get a thick smear of psuedo-plot thrown into the bargain.

Film Review: The Little Stranger

It's Sunday night, and it's not unusual for me to head to the cinema. This week, based on a novel by Sarah Waters, it's The Little Stranger. The trailer (below) paints a picture of a spooky mystery; an evil presence in an old, run-down house.

The movie left me cold. It feels like a slow-burner that's going to kick off any minute, and then after a little less than two hours it just stops. There a a couple of moments that are seemingly intended to shock, but delivered so matter-of-factly, so stoic, British, stiff-upper-liply they barely moved me at all, other than to think "great, it's getting started now." But no. Back to plodding along until the next mildly unnerving moment in an otherwise sedentary story.

I had a lovely one hundred and eleven minute sit down, with each scene's background wonderfully evocative of post- World War II middle England: dreary and grey but somehow beautiful at the same time. There's some fantastic imagery surrounding the house, too: it's a gorgeous gothic mansion in the flashback scenes, a vibrant backdrop to a young and happy family; and then in the present day it's as dilapidated and unkempt as the older-than-their-years remnants that are fighting a losing battle on the inside.

None of this, however, detracts from the fact that it just doesn't give what the trailer promises. There are hints of ghost story, but this never develops into anything. A tease of family madness, but this, too is left largely unexplored. A dark past that's hinted at all too briefly and then left unresolved.

Maybe I missed something. Should I read the book?

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