Editor’s Note: Mine will open in limited theatrical release Friday, April 7, 2017.
Mike (Armie Hammer) is a Marine sniper sent to the middle of nowhere in a vague Middle Eastern location to take out an enemy target. He and fellow Marine Tommy (Tom Cullen), his spotter and alleged best friend, locate the man in question at a wedding, along with several attendees and well-armed bodyguards, but their intel doesn’t match the description, and Mike won’t take the shot. The pair are spotted and barely make their getaway before getting lost in the desert with a sandstorm preventing their rescue. Tommy, a thoroughly irritating and occasionally stupid man, refuses to take heed when Mike notices a sign warning of mines hidden in the desert sands up ahead, and gets his legs blown off in a gruesome scene so thoroughly telegraphed that it becomes unintentionally funny. Mike, meanwhile, also steps on a mine, but he never steps off of it; as long as he remains standing on the trigger, it won’t explode. Rescuers can’t get to him for two days or more, and storms, scorching heat, freezing nights, wild animals, and enemy combatants make his already perilous situation truly dire.
Essentially a one-man show after the initial set-up, Mine is a tense war thriller that relies heavily on Armie Hammer’s performance, and he proves himself more than up to the task of carrying the film.
And so it goes with Mine, the Italian-Spanish-American co-production that finally sees its U.S. release this week. Essentially a one-man show after the initial set-up, Mine is a tense war thriller that relies heavily on Hammer’s performance, and he proves himself more than up to the task of carrying an entire film. Unfortunately, everything around Hammer goes well and truly wrong, from the voices on the radio, which sound like bad narration by people irritated at having had to go into work that day, to the derivative backstory that is as vague as it is unconvincing.
Mine has a message, and that message is that mines are bad, especially for the civilians left to live with minefields in their back yards. Yet the film chooses to show this by making the American Marines sympathetic victims, while a local man and his daughter (Clint Dyer and Inés Píñar Mille), both horribly affected by these remnants of a war that wasn’t theirs, are portrayed as hostile, maybe even a little stupid. They communicate indirectly, with the frustrating riddles and enigmatic nonsense that characterized the dialogue of non-white supporting players in Hollywood decades ago, something that was shameful enough back then and thoroughly repugnant now.
Regardless of the film’s several missteps, the tension is undeniable, and the best performances in the film come in several of Mike’s breaks from reality, which are effective and psychologically harrowing.
Regardless of the film’s several missteps, the tension is undeniable, and the best performances in the film come in several of Mike’s breaks from reality, which are effective and psychologically harrowing. The cinematography by Sergi Vilanova Claudín is quite good, with blistering white daylight scenes full of searing, bright, empty spaces, and nighttime shots reminiscent of The Grey (2011). Hammer’s perf is impeccably controlled, intense when needed but also still and quiet as the grave in all the right places. There are the requisite flashbacks and hallucinations to keep the scenario from going stale, but it’s really Hammer’s outstanding performance that will keep the audience in their seats.
Thanks to Armie Hammer's intense, controlled performance, Mine turns a thin tale into a tense psychological thriller.