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Mile 22

‘Mile 22’ is another in a very long line of recent action thrillers. Hollywood seems to love the sound of guns blazing and the ensuing chaos. This isn’t anything new with action flicks busting onto screens in various degrees of quality. The genre has recently been more focussed on better performances and authenticity. This trend is evident in ‘Mile 22’ with a cast delving into the script’s gritty atmosphere with energetic gusto.

The Ground Branch of the Special Activities Division is an elite CIA task force. Involved in often dangerous missions, their latest tests their agent’s abilities. On orders from his boss dubbed ‘Mother’ (John Malkovich), James (Mark Wahlberg) is tasked with escorting a high profile asset, Li Noor (Iko Uwais) 22 miles to the extraction point. Events turn sour as a litany of terrorists hunt the group with vengeance.

The editor must have had a field day with ‘Mile 22’. Although directed by Peter Berg, ‘Mile 22’ feels edited within an inch of its life. Barely a second goes by in a scene without cutting away to something. This has a disorientating affect in making the plot difficult to follow. Perhaps this was the intention as the characters face danger at any moment. Unfortunately this makes for jarring viewing as the screenplay swiftly becomes as garbled as the clichéd dialogue.

The minuses continue with the wooden performances and threadbare characterisation. Both have the effect of making one care little about what happens to the characters. A major plus is the exploration of how the team go about their duties and how quickly events can deteriorate. Those elements manage to genuinely captivate with a good twist ending. The action is well staged although due to the terrible editing, hard to see. ‘Mile 22’ also delights a little too much in the violence with the blood flowing as freely as the high body count.

‘Mile 22’ has a reasonable story hidden in its jumbled narrative. Superior editing and direction may have made it a better experience. In terms of guns, fights and explosions, it’s up there with several action yarns with dodging bullets something that should be high on a would-be agent’s resume.

Rating out of 10: 5

Kin

The best science fiction films have a relatable context for audiences with even the ‘Star Wars’ series being more than an action chase-about across the galaxies. At their core are tales of family and the yearning to belong. Whilst it isn’t in the same expensive league, ‘Kin’ shares a few similarities. ‘Kin’ explores the kinship of brothers learning to get along. This underlying message amongst the small but dazzling CGI goes a long way in making for strong viewing.

Attempting to make sense of his fractured family is Elijah (Myles Truitt). Looked after by his adoptive father, Hal (Dennis Quaid), Elijah’s world is shaken when his older brother, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), is released from prison. When Elijah discovers a dangerous weapon of alien origin, Jimmy’s shady ways quickly puts Elijah’s new discovery to the test. After a shoot-out with fearsome crime lord Taylor (James Franco), Jimmy and Elijah go on the run. With gangs of earthly and otherworldly soldiers hunting them, Elijah and Jimmy must find a way to bond if they are to survive.

Graced with fine performances and an involving script, ‘Kin’ is an interesting examination of family dynamics. More of a road-movie drama than sci-fi adventure, it has a sturdy base upon which to tell the story. Elijah and Jimmy are polar opposites but must work together to survive. Whilst this strand is clichéd story-telling, ‘Kin’ makes it work due to the authentic quality of the acting and setting. Truitt and Reynor make a fine combination with Franco exuding genuine menace as the dangerously unpredictable criminal.

Directed with assurance by Johnathan and Josh Baker, ‘Kin’ is small in scale but big on emotional scope. It doesn’t set out to be a blockbuster and has depth. The conclusion may be crammed with too many ideas and seems too contrived but getting to that point provides several tense moments. The world in which ‘Kin’ inhabits is believable with the CGI thankfully not over-whelming its central premise.

It may not be an instant classic or particularly amazing but ‘Kin’ isn’t the usual ‘setting things up for a franchise’ movie. That’s something to be grateful for as it just sets out to tell one story with a rounded ending. Like ‘Kin’, sci-fi films will never fade as long as their ability to relate to audiences remains no matter what universes they explore.

Rating out of 10: 6