The deadly dance of soldiers and land mines has an inherent drama that can make for gripping storytelling. Since the start of the century, we’ve seen this with films from Denmark (the Oscar-nominated “Land of Mine”), England (the searing “Kilo Two Bravo”) and Bosnia (“No Man’s Land”).
Now, there’s the more metaphysical and philosophical “Mine” though it’s the weakest — and arguably the least realistic — of the group. But a committed performance by Armie Hammer, who’s on screen from start to finish as an American soldier who has stepped on a mine and can’t move, keeps it from being a complete dud.
Hammer is Mike, a sniper on a mission in an unnamed North African country with his fellow soldier and best friend, Tommy (Tom Cullen). But Mike dawdles pulling the trigger on a suspected terrorist — he’s not convinced they’ve got the right guy — allowing their position to be discovered. They’re chased across the desert and into a mine field.
Tommy doesn’t make it, and Mike could be next, if he lifts his foot. Through it all, he has to deal with armed tribesmen, wild animals, a sandstorm, the heat, the cold, an enigmatic Berber, and the enigmatic Berber’s daughter as well as hallucinogenic, taunting visions from his troubled past — all without taking a step.
As directed by the Italian team of Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro, the Canary Islands-filmed “Mine” shimmers with a dusty authenticity and the first half-hour is shot through with suspense. But as more of Mike’s clichéd back story becomes clear over the course of a long 106 minutes, the film becomes almost as much of an endurance test for the audience as it is for Mike.
Exclusive: AMC Stonebriar, Frisco; video-on-demand
Directors: Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro
Cast: Armie Hammer, Annabelle Wallis, Tom Cullen
Rated: Unrated (violence, strong language)
Running time: 106 min.