‘Mile 22’ is a riddling ride through too many alleyways

Mark Wahlberg stars in 'Mile 22.' (Promotional Image)
Updated 25 August 2018
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‘Mile 22’ is a riddling ride through too many alleyways

CHENNAI: “Mile 22” may sound like a strange title, but it is within this distance from an airfield to the American Embassy in Indocarr (a fictionalized version of perhaps South Korea) where most of the action unfolds.
A mystery agent, Li Noor (Iko Uwais), walks into the embassy with an asylum request. In return, he volunteers to hand over a code to decipher the location of shipments of cesium, a chemical capable of mass destruction. The code is inside a disc, which will deconstruct in eight hours.
James Silva (Mark Wahlberg) and his team of American commandos in charge of anti-terror operations are asked to escort Noor from the embassy to an airfield 22 miles away, where a waiting plane will take him away.
It is never clear why Noor turns himself in, and the film, which marks the fourth time that director Peter Berg and Wahlberg are collaborating, is equally perplexing at other places.
While their earlier film, “Patriots Day,” marked a high point (with “Lone Survivor” and “Deepwater Horizon” flying at various levels), “Mile 22” seems to have hit the bottom. The two have announced that it is the first of a trilogy, and it seems like a desperate attempt to start a franchise.
Much of the movie’s confusion comes down to its innumerable subplots. Silva is bitter most of the time, abusive, violent and driven to lecturing people to an extent that it drives them mad. Sometimes, he comes off as a habitual killer. Supposedly bipolar, orphaned at 11, married and divorced three times, he is bizarre. But he is also strangely entertaining.
The other bit of fun, although bloody, comes from Uwais’ martial arts hand-to-hand combat at the embassy’s detention center, while the painful divorce of team member Alice Kerr (Lauren Cohan) and her separation from her little daughter offer tearjerking moments. Much of all these could have been excised, save for Uwais’ bare-fisted fight, which is the movie’s high point.


Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

Updated 15 October 2018
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Hawking’s final book offers brief answers to big questions

  • Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year before he died
  • “He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said

LONDON: Stephen Hawking’s final work, which tackles issues from the existence of God to the potential for time travel, was launched on Monday by his children, who helped complete the book after the British astrophysics giant’s death.
Hawking was forever being asked the same things and started work on “Brief Answers to the Big Questions” last year — but did not finish it before he died in March, aged 76.
It has been completed by the theoretical physicist’s family and academic colleagues, with material drawn from his vast personal archive.
“He was regularly asked a set of questions,” his daughter Lucy Hawking said at the Science Museum in London.
The book was an attempt to “bring together the most definitive, clearest, most authentic answers that he gave.
“We all just wish he has here to see it.”
Hawking, who was wheelchair bound due to motor neurone disease, dedicated his life’s work to unraveling the mysteries of the universe.
The cosmologist was propelled to stardom by his 1988 book “A Brief History of Time,” an unlikely worldwide bestseller.
It won over fans from far beyond the rarefied world of astrophysics and prompted people into asking the mastermind his thoughts on broader topics, answered in his final work.

The 10 questions Hawking tackles are:
-- Is there a God?
-- How did it all begin?
-- What is inside a black hole?
-- Can we predict the future?
-- Is time travel possible?
-- Will we survive on Earth?
-- Is there other intelligent life in the universe?
-- Should we colonize space?
-- Will artificial intelligence outsmart us?
-- How do we shape the future?


In his book, Hawking says humans have no option but to leave Earth, risking being “annihilated” if they do not.
He says computers will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years, but “we will need to ensure that the computers have goals aligned with ours.”
Hawking says the human race had to improve its mental and physical qualities, but a genetically-modified race of superhumans, say with greater memory and disease resistance, would imperil the others.
He says that by the time people realize what is happening with climate change, it may be too late.
Hawking says the simplest explanation is that God does not exist and there is no reliable evidence for an afterlife, though people could live on through their influence and genes.
He says that in the next 50 years, we will come to understand how life began and possibly discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe.
“He was deeply worried that at a time when the challenges are global, we were becoming increasingly local in our thinking,” Lucy Hawking said.
“It’s a call to unity, to humanity, to bring ourselves back together and really face up to the challenges in front of us.”
In his final academic paper, Hawking shed new light on black holes and the information paradox, with new work calculating the entropy of black holes.
Turned into an animation narrated by Hawking’s artificial voice, it was shown at the book launch.
“It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming,” Lucy Hawking told AFP on hearing her father’s voice again.
“It feels sometimes like he’s still here because we talk about him and hear his voice — and then we have the reminder that he’s left us.”