An American sniper and his spotter engage in a deadly cat-and-mouse game with an Iraqi sniper.
Greetings again from the darkness. When a director’s filmographyincludes ”big” action movies like Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith,and The Bourne Identity (the original), the last thing we expect is astripped-down war movie whose camera focuses on a single characteralmost the entire run time. Director Doug Liman certainly understandshow to use the camera in creating tension and stress, yet while he andwriter Dwain Worrell seem so intent on proving the confusion andfutility of war, they seem to forget that a thriller needs either ahero to cheer or a villain to jeer.
It’s late 2007, and the war is winding down as rebuilding efforts areunderway. Hulking Staff Sergeant Matthews (John Cena) and his fellowsoldier Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) have been perched and camouflagedon the side a hill for more than 20 hours as they carry outreconnaissance on the site of an under-construction oil pipeline. Allthey have seen is the remains of a massacre 8 bodies with no signs oflife. Peering through his malfunctioning scope that once belonged to anow-dead friend, Isaac (known as ”Ize” get it?) and his trainingthinks something doesn’t seem right. When Matthews deems the site safe,he heads down to check it out. Of course, all heck breaks out and soonenough, an injured Isaac takes shelter alone behind a teetering stonewall. It turns out a sniper, more patient than the American soldiers,had been biding time for the moment.
The first eight bodies are construction contractors and a securitydetail
none of which mattered to the sniper. The hook here is thatthe sniper hacks into Isaac’s radio and seemingly wants to chat it up,rather than finish him off. We never see the sniper, and neither doMatthews or Isaac
but we do hear him plenty. Laith Nakli voices Juba known to American soldiers as the Angel of Death, responsible fordozens of US casualties. The film spirals into a psychological game ofchess or, more fittingly, the torture of Isaac. This isn’t the warwe’ve come to expect in movies. Isaac’s situation seems hopeless, andbanter with the man responsible never strikes him as a worthwhilepursuit.
The biggest issue here is that Juba seems the most interestingcharacter, and not only are we never provided a way to connectwith/hate him, we don’t even get enough backstory to bond with Isaac.Plenty of obstacles are thrown at Isaac: blowing sand, lack of drinkingwater, skittles for sustenance, blazing sun/heat, radio issues, and abrutally painful knee wound courtesy of Juba. The success of the moviedepends on two things: Aaron Taylor-Johnson selling us on Isaac’spredicament, and the radio dialogue between he and Juba. The former isfine, but the latter falls short.
Better sniper movies include American Sniper and Enemy at the Gates,while more effective (mostly) one-character thrillers include Locke,Buried, and 127 Hours. The film makes excellent use of sound, but thelittle jabs at American ideals grows old quickly (such as asking who isthe real terrorist). A different approach to a familiar topic deservesa chance, but while Juba only misses on purpose, the efforts of Mr.Liman and Mr. Worrell miss the mark by not engaging the viewer with thecharacter(s).
The Wall is the latest thriller from director Doug Liman and featuresAaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as a two man recon team stationed inIraq who are pinned down by sniper fire and must take refuge behind awall. Their calls for help are heard by no one…except the enemysniper. As the battle of wits rages on so does the courage of the twomen and their will to survive. This proves to be very beneficial forthis film because, honestly, it did not feel like it would be able tosustain a feature length film. However, with the sheer intensity of thefilm and the perfect performances from Johnson and Cena, The Wall workseven when it doesn’t.
First off, the film is a lean, mean 80 minutes. As soon as the filmstarts, it starts. There is no warming up to it, it drops you in themovie unapologetic. What comes next is a reckoning of pure adrenalinepumping cinema. Much like last year’s The Shallows, The Wall benefitsfrom its bare bones approach. There isn’t big explosions or typicalwarfare, this is more a war of wits which has been done before (andbetter) but this film is successful in the way that it doesn’t needhuge action numbers to sustain suspense. Director Doug Liman knows whatit is and he knows the strengths are in the performances. It makes fora very interesting addition in the new age war film genre, sittingnicely between The Hurt Locker and American Sniper.
Despite all that is well with the film, there are a few moments whereyou’re expecting the film to go one way and then it absolutely does nottake any risks and gives you exactly what you expected. For that, Ihave to say that it was disappointing to not see as much innovationwith such a bare bones film. For me, I like when characters are forcedto use their environments for their benefit. The Wall definitely didthat but in sort of a half-assed way. There really isn’t anythingclever or cool about the way it all pans out. With that being said, itstill makes for an intense movie even if sometimes it feels a littlecheap.
Overall, The Wall is a short yet intense film that will keep youhanging on until the last frame. The performances from Aaron TaylorJohnson and John Cena are nothing short of amazing. This is especiallyfor John Cena, who absolutely blew me away with his fantasticperformance as Matthews. While Cena shines, so does Aaron TaylorJohnson who bucks up and carries the movie on his shoulders withouteven thinking about it. It stands as Johnson and Cena’s bestperformances to date and it definitely is worth watching.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I got thirsty just watching.
My first impression was of the completely desolate landscape. Noplants, trees -just rocks and dust. Makes you wonder how any indigenouspeople, regardless of how sturdy, could ever eek out a living in such aplace.
I was left flat by the sparing of any visual observations of thelegendary ‘Juba’, an American trained Iraqi sniper who psychologicallytortures Isaac, forcing him to begin doubting his own motives forstaying in the war, and American Patriotism in general.
To have featured Juba in the flesh would have lent to the film far moresubstance than what we receive.
No matter how crafty (though desperate) Isaac’s moves might be to turnthe tables, Juba is always a step ahead.
No matter it’s scant run time of only 80 minutes, this story couldeasily have packed a lot more in as far as flash backs, characterdevelopment, and supporting roles.
I liken the film to being served a small slice of filet mignon, acouple bites of backed potato, and half a glass of wine.
All in all a fine work, just not enough of it to go around.
”The Wall” (2017 release; 93 min.) brings the story of Isaac. As themovie opens, we are reminded that ”It’s late 2007, and the Iraqi was iswinding down”. We then meet two servicemen who are out somewhere in thedesert looking for an Iraqi sniper who has killed US contractors. After22 hrs.,, Matthews decides to go in, but when he does he is shot. Inthe ensuing chaos, Isaac also gets shot, and in desperation throwshimself behind a wobbly wall to hide out. It’s not too long beforeIsaac is in radio contact with the Iraqi sniper (pretending to be anally). At this point we’re not even 15 min. into the movie, but to tellyou more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll justhave to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie from director Doug Liman,best known for action movies like his previous film ”Edge of Tomorrow”.Here, he goes a very different direction. It is in essence a (mostlyone-man) theater play set in the desert and in three scenes: theopening 10 min., the middle 60 min, and the concluding 20 min. The meatof the film is the 60 min. (playing out in real time) in which Isaacand the Iraqi sniper are playing mind games with each other (but weonly see Isaac). The performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson is amazing(for one thing, he is out of breath the entire movie–due to heatexhaustion and from being shot). He carries the movie on his shoulders,both figuratively and literally. Along the way we also understand howit is that Isaac and Matthews ended up there, with no apparent backupor rescue plans. The movie does not contain any music (but for oneinstrumental playing over the end credits). Please note that the movieis shown here on Amazon and also other sources (such as IMDb) as havinga running time of 81 min. This is simply not correct: the version I sawin the theater ran a few minutes over an hour and a half.
”The Wall” opened in theaters this weekend, and I couldn’t wait to seeit. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at here inCincinnati was attend okay but still on the low side (considering it’sthe movie’s opening weekend). Given the nature of the movie (a theaterplay in the desert) and its subject matter (the war in Iraq), I can’timagine this will play very long in theaters, so if this is somethingthat might appeal to you, there’s a good chance that you’ll end upchecking it out on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.
I went into the theater thinking this would be a modern Enemy at thegates. Instead I got what felt like a horrible sequel to a movie neverthat never made it off the drawing board. If someone was writing abudget sequel to Phone Booth and decided to rip off the plot to TheHills have eyes 2, then you would have The Wall. The movie wasbasically empty thrills with an obvious end to each. I felt like I waswatching more of a bad slasher flick then a drama/thriller. The endingwas really bad, it ruined what little the movie had going for it.
If tight thrillers are your jam, The Wall is another great addition tothe genre. I love these kinds of thrillers where the protagonist is putin a tight spot and has to find a way out of it. If you liked PhoneBooth, Buried and 1408, you’ll enjoy this one. Great intensity, greatdialogue, great acting. Just another brick in the Wall.
Most boring movie i have ever seen. extremely low budget, not even a bmovie. Do not waste your time or money on it. you have been warned. Iliked john in the marine, but this is just a talking movie no action atall. If you are wanting a action movie this is not it. Hopefully johnwill pick better scripts next time cause i like the guy.