Armie Hammer is a fine actor who has yet to find the proper vehicle to showcase the full extent of his talent. Mine, a film Hammer also produced, is no exception.
Set in the Middle East, Mine stars Hammer as a U.S. soldier forced to survive on his own for 52 hours in the middle of the desert after a mission gone awry. Hammer is also standing on a potentially active landmine. This, coupled with the setting, wildlife, and creeping psychological dread creates what is intended to be a thrilling, white-knuckle descent into madness.
I must use the word intended here, as Mine falls short of its great ambitions. The film struggles to find a pace or tone that works for the story its trying to tell. The film sways from reality to fever dream and back again in a way that feels more manufactured than sincere. Worse yet, we know nothing about Hammer’s character prior to his being stuck, which makes the ensuing battle with self he faces one that we are never fully engaged in. It’s as if the mystery of the film is tied to who Hammer is as a man, while also trying to shoehorn in a far more existential discussion on grief and change.
The film’s latter half, which dives into more psychological elements of Hammer’s predicament, is where things really begin to come off the rails. As the sun ravages his body and his rations are depleted, Hammer begins to battle his own fear of the unknown through a series of sequences that straddle the line between sanity and psychosis. Animals in the night, kind strangers, and more come and go like ghosts while Hammer grapples with the fact his next step could be his last. Of course, he could also live, but he will never know until he chooses to move.
Mine makes a lot of fuss over the idea that we always know our next step might be our last, but we rarely take the time to consider the importance of such understanding. Hammer’s character finds himself in a very literal version of this philosophical conundrum, and through internal analysis becomes paralyzed. The metaphor being presented could not be made more clear if the film screamed it in your face, which it more or less does as Hammer’s dehydration takes a toll on his mental state, but the delivery is never as compelling as the film believes itself to be.
The inherent tension of someone being stuck with one foot on a landmine should be more than enough to keep Mine clipping along, but the movie stumbles because the script chooses instead to focus on unresolved issues from Hammer’s past. It’s a lot of reflection on the things left unsaid and the moments we wish could be undone, all while the topic of what one should or would do when confronted with this extreme situation goes largely unexplored. It’s a missed opportunity, and a rather confusing one at that.
Hammer, amidst of all of this, continues to shine as one of this generation’s finest actors. His work to carry the film is admirable even when his best efforts are not enough to keep things moving along. Had he been given more to do, or perhaps been paired with a better director, things may have played out differently. His skill cannot be denied however, so it seems safe to assume his career will continue on as Mine quickly becomes a forgotten film that people scroll passed on their favorite streaming service.