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Lost or trapped in the desert is fast becoming a sub-genre all its own, with the setting a canvas of metaphors for a character or characters to assess and re-evaluate there lives. Add to that the step-on-a-landmine trope and suddenly the symbolism grows even thicker. With Mine, a well-made thriller that combines both, the clichés are handled well enough, made all the better by a solid lead performance and a tight pace.
In the deserts of Northern Africa, the sniper team of Mike (Armie Hammer), the shooter, and Tommy (Tom Cullen), the spotter, wait on a bluff for their targets to arrive, suspected terrorists gathering for a meeting. When that turns out to be something different, and the pair get seen as they argue about their orders, they barely escape alive, but end up in the hollows of the bitter desert. What’s worse, they’ve stumbled into a minefield, one that ends Tommy and leaves Mike stranded after he puts a foot down on a trigger. Now he has to stand still and somehow survive for two days while rescue is en route.
Directed by Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro, Mine is all about the message and works exhaustively to paint the dots it wants us to connect leaving very little in terms of ambiguity or interpretation. Mike’s situation is a reflection of his past, the metaphors clear as we cut to a few flashbacks of his girlfriend Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) and his family, choices made with him and by him. Most of it though is simply Mike baring his body and soul to the forces of nature that test him as the hours tick by and his stamina wains.
The trappings of the plot means the movie mostly stands still, and fortunately, as it must, there is at least Hammer at the center of it, an actor who has yet to get the role that he deserves. He’s always had a highly charismatic presence and here, is very convincing, doing great work with what he’s given, a role that essentially has him in one position for ninety minutes. Yet as good as he is, it’s not quite enough to make this often manipulative experience strike as well as it should.
This leaves the film scattered in peculiar visual and scripted moments that undermine some of the larger potential, such as a minefield sign caught in the wind the lands directly at Mike’s feet, a hidden video in his phone from Jenny that he finds right when he needs it, a quirky desert man who luckily speaks English and doles out truisms like candy from his pocket, and an all too obvious score that leave no question as to what is coming. These maybe help in giving the movie a more fable-like feel, yet strip away at authenticity.
That said, the ordeal Mike endures is pretty harrowing as he hallucinates and relives some troubling recent memories that lend the film it’s real heart, giving Hammer some great opportunities to shine, even as the setting itself seems forced. All things collide in a whirlwind ending that is either going to pack the punch it designs to have or feel like a cheat. Mine is a psychological thriller that has some truly good moments, yet falls just short of being the film it should be.
Movie description: Mine is a 2017 thriller about a soldier lost in the desert after a failed mission, who takes one step that changes everything, forcing him to hold his ground.
Director(s): Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro
Actor(s): Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen
Genre: Drama, Thriller