What a mess...and a major step down for the Mark Wahlberg/Peter Berg collaborations. This is easily the worst film I have seen in the year 2018. It is a testament to the worst qualities filmmakers can bring to the modern action film, ranked right next to such migraine inducing insults like "Tak3n" and "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter".
The story is very basic and B-grade: an elite team of off the book operatives have to escort a whistleblower 22 miles to an airstrip to escape his corrupt Southeast Asian nation. If they do so, he will provide the location of a deadly weapon the U.S. wants to desperately find. Trouble is that everyone is going to try to kill them along the way. Despite that painstakingly simple premise, they manage to make the expositional buildup overly complicated. You are thrown into a conflict you don't understand over an objective that you don't feel the magnitude of. This is complete with characters referring to things that already happened with a previous mission that failed which we didn't witness. The exposition being confusing is something the filmmakers must have noted themselves because right before the escort begins, John Malkovich's character literally breaks down the entire setup AGAIN to make sure you, in fact, get it. That is lazy writing and shows that the filmmakers think that the audience is either stupid or is a victim of their own storytelling incompetence. The story is also told in "flashback" I guess as it keeps randomly cutting to Wahlberg's character retelling the event (more exposition for those that can't follow this basic premise...again) and also monologuing about random..."philosophical" things about special ops missions. Nothing he says is actually important. I think he is supposed to be trying to give the film a message or something like a wise man. He is no wise man though, he is just the movie equivalent to fortune cookies drunk on Jack Daniels mixed with Gatorade. Actually, this whole movie feels like a "Call of Duty" wet dream... written by those very annoying COD players that are 12 years old and are far too young to be playing a game meant for adults. There is also this constant cutting to some Russian characters. Based on the opening, you know that they have a purpose. The actual outcome of that purpose, however, is sort of like...."oh that's what the deal is....wait why do I care again?"
Then there are the characters: all of them are either unlikeable, uninteresting, or an unholy combination of both. The most consistent example is the film's lead Jimmy Silva as played by the usually reliable Mark Wahlberg. His character is like this super hyper thinking soldier that is way off on the mental spectrum. He is super intelligent and obsessive about everything around him and has to use a rubber band on his arm which he pulls and slaps on his wrist to keep him calm. This is could be interesting, but instead, the character is an awkward embarrassment. He is a complete jerk to everyone around him, talks way too fast, and likes to just get right in everyone's faces to yell and complain like a whiny, little baby that lost his raddle. He is a complete a-hole and I honestly wished somebody would just punch him in the face. But his character seems to get off on violence so...perhaps that could just make things worse. He is a horrible character with an embarrassing performance by Marky Mark...right next to the "The Happening".
Finally, there is the critical sin: the editing and cinematography. This is some the poorest, most incomprehensible action I have seen in quite awhile. Every shootout and fight scene is compromised by ADHD cuts to so many shaky cam angles over and over again. Furthermore, most of the camera work is shot very tight in either close-ups or medium shots. You never get a sense of geography. You never can tell where the "heroes" are in context to the enemy. You get the general sense that people are shooting bullets and that people are getting hit by said bullets. They have the guy from the "The Raid' films in here and they completely waste his talents in his TWO fight scenes. This man can do a whole fight in one shot and they insist on cutting shots every 0.5 seconds as if they are trying to hide poor choreography. But you can tell it's not!! You can tell that in better hands this would be amazing!!! And do not defend this movie's editing and camerawork as being "realistic". There are many directors that can pull this style off well. Heck, Peter Berg is one of them! Go watch "Lone Survivor", "Deepwater Horizon", and "Patriot's Day" because those are great examples done right. "Patriot's Day" contains one the best "realistic" shootouts I can remember in recent years. This is straight up garbage. This is why I praise a movie like "John Wick" for getting the action right. That's why "John Wick' is a 5-star movie in my book. If you think that the way they do the action in this film is good, I am sorry but you might have something seriously wrong with you. Bad taste...very bad. Screw this shaky cam crap! And that makes up half the movie...if not more.
Horrible movie. Want something similar that is good, check the 2004 S.W.A.T. movie. It has a very similar plot with better characters, buildup, and action. Need something more recent? Try "Sicario".