How Peter Berg Is Reinventing Car Chases On Mile 22

A car explodes on the set of Mile 22

By design, the bulk of Peter Berg's upcoming thriller Mile 22 will be set in cars. The plot finds a special ops team leader (played by Mark Wahlberg) who is ordered to bring a valuable witness (played by Iko Uwais) from a U.S. embassy to an airstrip that's located 22 miles away. The plane will carry the witness to safety. Only, every stretch of the 22-mile run will be marked by the presence of lethal antagonists ordered to do everything in their power to stop Uwais' character from reaching the plane.

Earlier this year, CinemaBlend traveled to Bogota, Colombia to watch Peter Berg and his cast film scenes from Mile 22. The bulk of what we witnessed involved a shootout outside of the embassy in question, as the team's difficult journey was just getting underway. But as we spoke with the cast, they started telling us about how Berg is going the extra mile -- no pun intended -- to bring an authenticity and a visceral intensity to his car-chase scenes, as they are pivotal to the bulk of the movie. Co-star Lauren Cohan, who plays a member of Mark Wahlberg's team, explained to us:

We had weeks of rehearsal and prep before shooting. We started shooting in Atlanta. Kevin Scott, who directs the second unit and has sort of created all these amazing mechanisms to do these [car] stunts with, talked us through and showed us videos and photos. ... None of it really prepares you for how you get this shit done. [Laughs] Especially on very, very bumpy streets, and with cameramen strapped to the sides of cars that are supposed to look beaten up, and sometimes are beaten up. It's been really fun. Some of the rigs are, I can't remember what it's called, the one where our [actual] driver is on top of the car, and we're just driving. It's pretty surreal. You're whipping around corners, and nobody's holding the wheel, but they are.

These rigs, built on the sides of and on top of moving automobiles, further push the point made by Mile 22 executive producer Stuart M. Besser, who said that Peter Berg's approach to on-the-ground and in-your-face filmmaking made Berg the perfect choice for this type of thriller. The producer explained:

I'm a huge fan of doing everything in camera. I was working with Scotty Waugh on Need for Speed, and he wanted to do everything in camera as well, and I think it benefits the film. It does look more real, no matter how good visual effects have gotten nowadays. And the actors are there. And it really, it matters. We do it in a safe, prudent manner, so I'm never concerned about the safety of a performer or any of the crew. And I think, when you can do that, the actors are more in touch with it, rather than being in a room that's green and pretending.

Lauren Cohan in Mile 22

This point was later echoed once again by The Walking Dead's Lauren Cohan, who was discussing an obstacle -- but also an added benefit -- of shooting on the run in a car while you are being chased, knocked into and shot at. She said that very often, while filming intense chase scenes for Mile 22, you were improvising because you couldn't hear direction. You were reacting to the events happening in the moment. So nothing was truly scripted in those instances, and your reaction couldn't really be wrong. Cohan said:

The way that Pete shoots, you just keep going and if something's not quite right, or you want to go back, it's like, we don't have to start the whole thing over again. He's just there on what we're calling The God Mic. He's like, 'Hey, can you do this?' ... The stuff in the car was so especially fun, because we had the four of us basically driving around and -- first of all, we're driving so fast we couldn't actually hear very well, the direction. So if somebody hears the direction, it's like, 'Okay, it was this. It was this. Okay cool.'So it really informs the team that we are in the film. But also, just us feeling like we just have each other. We just have each other's back. All we want to do is everybody stay in [the scene] and have fun and get it right and give it the right emphasis and the right energy, and give it stakes, the way that the story needs. It's very... you don't even have time to worry if you're doing it right, because you're going to get told if you're not and it's going to be okay, so you just kind of keep going.

The intense automobile chases, and the fights that will happen inside, outside and around these moving vehicles, have us very excited for Peter Berg's Mile 22. In one quick fight sequence we witnessed, the ever-agile Iko Uwais was handcuffed to a car door, and used a seatbelt to disarm multiple antagonists. Berg is really plunging his audience into the action, and embracing the limitations that come with setting a chase movie in a series of steady moving cars. See what it looks like in the Mile 22 trailer:

And see how it turns out when Mile 22 opens in theaters on August 3.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.