Mine (2016)

  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Thriller | War
  • Directors: Fabio Guaglione, Fabio Resinaro
  • Cast: Annabelle Wallis, Armie Hammer, Tom Cullen


In the middle of the desert, in an area filled with 33 million blast mines scattered everywhere, Marine sniper Sergeant Mike Stevens is on a mission to locate and neutralise the leader of a terrorist cell. After three months and six days in the desert, one single moment of hesitation was enough to blow the entire mission, and now Sergeant Stevens has stranded in a hostile guerrilla territory all alone, and to make matters worse, with his left foot stepping on an active mine. Against the harsh environment, without food and water, the Sergeant must stay glued to the spot and use his Marine training, his resourcefulness and his perseverance for the next 52 hours until a convoy arrives in his area. Between the scolding heat of the day and the freezing cold of the night, if Sergeant Stevens wants to survive, he must fight not only against the mighty forces of nature but also versus the greatest adversary of them all: himself.


  • The best one character, single setting films make the most of their limitations, stripping away rather than piling on, ratcheting either the human or physical drama, and very much relying on the necessarily compelling presence of its star. James Franco in 127 Hours, Tom Hardy in Locke, Ryan Reynolds in Buried, and Blake Lively in last year’s The Shallows are just a few prime examples of this genre. Mine, the debut feature from Italian writers-directors Fabio Guaglione and Fabio Resinaro, would seem destined to join the ranks of these fine works if one were to judge it on actor Armie Hammer alone, but the filmmaker’s early resourcefulness quickly disappears, leaving most of the film to run very much on empty.

    Mine begins somewhere in a sun-baked sprawl of a North African desert where U.S. Marine sniper Mike (Hammer) and his annoyingly loquacious spotter Tommy (Tom Cullen) are waiting to carry out their assignment to take out one of the leading figures of a terrorist cell. When the convoy carrying said target arrives and Mike realises that a wedding is about to unfold, he hesitates before firing. That second’s hesitation is enough for the target’s armed men to start firing and chasing Mike and Tommy, who manage to evade the terrorist cell but now have to cross the desert to reach a village in order to secure an extraction point with their base camp. Unfortunately, they wander upon a literal minefield on which Tommy makes a fatal step. Mike is slightly more fortunate, hearing the trigger click of a mine beneath his boot and forced to remain in place to delay the blast.

    As if being exposed to the unforgiving desert elements and being an open target for the terrorist cell aren’t enough, Mike learns from base camp that an impending sandstorm has grounded the rescue vehicles and that Mike will have to wait 52 hours before a passing convoy can reach him. Thus, Mike must survive not only the sandstorm which blows his radio out of reach, a pack of vicious desert dogs that come out at night, and his own psychological breakdown as he recalls the abuse inflicted on him and his mother by his father. This childhood trauma has affected his own relationship with girlfriend Jenny (Annabelle Wallis), who understands the demons he’s carrying but who wishes he would overcome them so they can commit to one another.

    There’s also the matter of a Bedouin (Clint Dyer) and his young daughter, who individually visit him now and again; the Bedouin encouraging Mike to overcome his fears, take the next step, and become a free man. Unfortunately, these encounters – which may or may not be hallucinations – are so full of cornball philosophising that one almost wishes the mine would go off of its own accord. Ditto for scenes featuring Jenny and his childhood. As if the narrative weren’t already strained enough, the filmmakers not only decide to load more personal revelations but stretch out the final 10 – 15 minutes by employing needless slow motion. With all the cliches at hand, the final sequence only serves to test one’s patience rather than build in emotional power.

    Despite the faulty narrative and overhanded execution by Fabio and Fabio, Mine is worth tolerating for Hammer’s excellent and fully rounded portrayal, which convincingly conveys Mike’s resilience, despair, and disorientation.

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  • “You’re a very lucky man.
    You step on a mine and it doesn’t explode.
    You spend the night in the desert and the animals leave you alone.
    You’re a very lucky man, Mike and Michael!”

    Guess it wasn’t that simple to do this. Making a film that focuses solely on an American marine named Mike (Armie Hammer) who stepped on a landmine and who doesn’t dare to take any further steps. For 90 minutes, there’s nothing else to see than this soldier who has to wait 52 hours for a patrol to help him. Help that comes too late for his partner Tommy (Tom Cullen). He won’t be able to break the record on the 100 meter sprint, as both his legs are spread over a few square meters after walking on a landmine himself. And, in my opinion, the thought of a leg-less existence was too much for him as well. And now Mike is standing, kneeling and balancing there in the middle of the desert on an unexploded landmine, exposed to the elements of nature and from time to time deep in thought. The ultimate survival test.

    So, don’t expect real action-packed scenes in this movie. Only the delusions and flashbacks as Mike gets more and more tired, are presented in multitudes. And an odd, funny looking Berber shows up occasionally to bring water and have philosophical conversations with Mike. And afterwards he disappears again over the next dune. Whether this Berber is real or just a figment of his imagination, is hard to say. Certainly, he gives Mike something to hold onto so he won’t go insane because of dehydration, the heat and lack of sleep.

    Hammer’s performance is solid and convincing. A man who tries to survive in dire circumstances and at the same time tries to come to terms with his past. A childhood filled with domestic violence from an aggressive, alcoholic father. To be honest, it’s not hard to be the star of a movie when you’re actually delivering some kind of solo performance and there’s no other role that has a decisive impact on the movie. In this case, Hammer has the stage completely for himself and he can demonstrate the talent he has as an actor. And that is the most commendable of this film. Despite the intriguing concept, the content is too limited.

    You can also interpret this movie in a metaphorical way. Everybody tend to end up in a so-called mine field once in his lifetime. A difficult period in which making a thoughtful decision is necessary. But because of the fear of taking risks, one freezes and is scared of taking that next, crucial step. Sometimes it may be advisable to take a next step, although there are consequences, instead of standing still. A tremendous dilemma Mike is facing and something the enigmatic Gerber tries to explain to him all the time. Due to the subject and the total lack of action, you may call this a boring movie. At one point, one hopes that this bloody landmine would explodes. Just to stir up the tension. And yet, this movie managed to hold my attention and curiosity. Never thought that a non-exploding landmine could be so intriguing. And again, praise for Armie Hammer and his commendable performance.

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