‘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.


Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

Archaeological treasures in the northwestern region of the Kingdom are older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world. (AFP)
Updated 22 September 2018
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Traveling back thousands of years by reviving KSA's Al-Ula

  • The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition

JEDDAH: Bathing in the scorching sun of Saudi Arabia for the past 4,000 years and sitting among the sandy dunes of the northwestern region of the Kingdom, lie the country’s archaeological treasures. These treasures are even older than Saudi Arabia itself, and barely known to the world.
The area covers about 52 hectares of well-preserved land in which there are tombs handcrafted out of the rocks, relics from ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and the Romans, archaeological riches dating back 4,000 years and other priceless artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.
The somewhat forgotten land is going to be brought into the spotlight by the year 2020 as a historic collaboration takes place between Saudi Arabia and France.
France excels in the art of preserving history so it is the perfect alliance to meet the goals of making Al-Ula a tourist attraction.
Saudis are cooperating with France in preserving and promoting culture and archaeology.
The French consider this project so prestigious that Gerard Mestrallet, a special envoy of the president, has been appointed for Al-Ula. Both countries share a common approach to national heritage; that culture transcends all borders and should be accessible to all who seek to observe history.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron as well as Al-Ula governor, the special envoy to Al-Ula and France’s foreign minister. Against the walls of Paris’s Musee De Arts Decoratifs — a wing of the Louvre Palace — sit the illuminated sandstones for the French to experience a sliver of Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage. The Royal Commission of Al-Ula (RCU) has signed an agreement with Campus France, described as the leading international academic and vocational public institution in France, to train young Saudi women and men to become aspiring archaeologists.
The RCU is joining forces with the Arab World Institute in Paris to produce a touring exhibition. Public transport, hotels and restaurants are also part of the plan.
More than 2,100 people applied for traineeships: 200 young Saudi men and women will be trained by the most prestigious institutes in the world; part of the 1.2 million new tourist jobs are expected to be created under Vision 2030.
Cutting-edge technologies and methods such as aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging), scanning and photos taken from light aircraft, helicopter and drones will also be used.