CIA operative James Silva (Marky Mark Wahlberg) leads a covert paramilitary team operating under the banner of “Overwatch”. The team must deliver Li Noor (Iko Uwais) to a drop point 22 miles away, or he won’t tell them where a missing shipment of Caesium-139 is.
The entire film is interspersed with shots of Silva explaining himself to a board of faceless… journalists? Military leaders? Politicians? His responses make it hard to tell, and not just because the camera refuses to focus on Wahlberg for longer than half a second. The script jumps between snarky, philosophical, and technical. It was perhaps intended to give the film a clearer narrative, but all it does is tell us that something went wrong with the mission.
It’s branded as a “thriller,” which is confusing because there’s not a single moment that incites an adrenaline spike in the viewer. The only thrill is that Iko Uwais is getting more screentime. Uwais steals every scene he’s in, and not just because he’s the most frequently-shirtless actor. In a movie filled with clumsy fast cuts and repetitive shoot-outs, his martial artistry comes as a graceful reprieve.
Silva’s character is a mess. He’s called, at various points: bipolar, manic-depressive, mentally unstable, narcissistic, dissociative, violent, and hyperactive. He never displays any kind of personal struggle, let alone an actual psychotic break. This means there is zero reason to compare assholery with the mentally ill so many times.
The film opens with a montage of his tragic backstory, which one would assume is relevant to the film’s plot: he was a hyper-intelligent child with anger issues, and his mother and brothers were killed in a car accident when he was 11. This will never come up again.
He talks quickly and angrily, leading viewers to mistakenly believe he is a) in charge of the team (he is not) and b) good at his job (he is not). There is no way on God’s camo green Earth that the CIA would ever hire a man like James Silva. Let’s all try to remember this is not Wahlberg’s fault – he’s just a good actor playing a bad character.
The same goes for everyone else in this film. The cast is great, including WWE celebrity Ronda Rousey as a Russian-speaking CIA operative and John Malkovich as “Mother,” the man in charge of Overwatch.
At 90 minutes it’s a bearable length, and perhaps worth watching just to see a paramilitary film that considers Obama and Trump equally derisible.