(Netflix Streaming, December 2019) I am of two very different minds about Mile 22, the fourth collaboration between director Peter Berg and star actor Mark Wahlberg. On the positive side, it’s a muscular techno-thriller, featuring strong central performances by both Wahlberg and Indonesian action star Iko Uwais. It has a few good ideas to play with, and the script must read like a strong concept with snappy tough-guy dialogue, good action gags and an encroaching sense of desperation. Berg, as a filmmaker, is fluent in the use of pseudo-documentary material to heighten the believability of his material—it’s worth pointing out that of the four movies he’s made with Wahlberg, this is the first that’s complete fiction. The utterly paranoid worldview of Mile 22 is clearly built to appeal to right-wing viewers, but I’m not as bothered by that as I should: paranoia is the fuel of thrillers, and if you’re going to justify special forces action pyrotechnics, there better be a dastardly act of terrorism to do so. (The script is also not quite as strident in imposing its worldview as other comparable films.) We’re now living at a time when Russia is once again a bad actor on the geopolitical stage (gone are the days when action movie franchises went to Moscow!), and Mile 22 exploits this to the hilt. Unfortunately, there is a significant drop-off in effectiveness as the film moves from concept to execution. Berg’s blender-based approach to directing means that he almost entire wastes Uwais’s action talents in over-edited combat sequences. He barely gives us a chance to appreciate what’s happening on-screen—over and over, the action is distanced through a camera filming a screen showing the footage of another camera, and we’re left to piece together what exactly just happened. The script suffers in execution as well: If you want to compare Mile 22 to Berg’s previous The Kingdom (as you should, given the similar “group of characters running a gauntlet through an unsympathetic foreign country” premise), you will find that Mile 22 suffers in comparison: the characters are largely unsympathetic (especially Wahlberg’s protagonist, proud to be abrasive and not quite as smart in his actions as his ultra-loquaciousness would suggest), the ending is a gratuitous downer, and the whole thing runs on a strong undercurrent of idiocy. Berg’s ability to make unbelievable events seem plausible shouldn’t blind viewers to the preposterousness of a hard drive deleting itself (or rather the atrocious oversight of not making a bit-level backup of the drive first); the ability to hack into remote foreign cars, buildings, and traffic lights; the truly dumb tradecraft of the film’s spies and operatives; or the way the ending wraps up not with geopolitical concerns but petty personal revenge. (Or what led to that revenge in the first place.) Mile 22, despite having a few strong cards, ultimately disappoints through execution tics that should have been driven out of every action filmmaker’s repertoire outside the Bourne series. It feels, at times, like a barely digested wet dream from a trigger-happy paranoid. That may be intriguing for a first draft, but far more care should have been spent in production in making it more palatable.