A Bare Bones Thriller That Works More Than It Doesn't
The Wall is the latest thriller from director Doug Liman and features Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as a two man recon team stationed in Iraq who are pinned down by sniper fire and must take refuge behind a wall. Their calls for help are heard by no one...except the enemy sniper. As the battle of wits rages on so does the courage of the two men and their will to survive. This proves to be very beneficial for this film because, honestly, it did not feel like it would be able to sustain a feature length film. However, with the sheer intensity of the film and the perfect performances from Johnson and Cena, The Wall works even when it doesn't.
First off, the film is a lean, mean 80 minutes. As soon as the film starts, it starts. There is no warming up to it, it drops you in the movie unapologetic. What comes next is a reckoning of pure adrenaline pumping cinema. Much like last year's The Shallows, The Wall benefits from its bare bones approach. There isn't big explosions or typical warfare, this is more a war of wits which has been done before (and better) but this film is successful in the way that it doesn't need huge action numbers to sustain suspense. Director Doug Liman knows what it is and he knows the strengths are in the performances. It makes for a very interesting addition in the new age war film genre, sitting nicely between The Hurt Locker and American Sniper.
Despite all that is well with the film, there are a few moments where you're expecting the film to go one way and then it absolutely does not take any risks and gives you exactly what you expected. For that, I have to say that it was disappointing to not see as much innovation with such a bare bones film. For me, I like when characters are forced to use their environments for their benefit. The Wall definitely did that but in sort of a half-assed way. There really isn't anything clever or cool about the way it all pans out. With that being said, it still makes for an intense movie even if sometimes it feels a little cheap.
Overall, The Wall is a short yet intense film that will keep you hanging on until the last frame. The performances from Aaron Taylor Johnson and John Cena are nothing short of amazing. This is especially for John Cena, who absolutely blew me away with his fantastic performance as Matthews. While Cena shines, so does Aaron Taylor Johnson who bucks up and carries the movie on his shoulders without even thinking about it. It stands as Johnson and Cena's best performances to date and it definitely is worth watching.
Reviewed by Timothy Lee Huffman4 / 10
Okay so to get started I had been waiting and waiting to go to the theater and see this movie, I finally made it out and well what is to follow will spoil the movie but trust me you'll save some money.
The movie starts out great a sniper (John Cena) and a spotter checking out a site where a construction crew and their guards have been killed. They sit and wait suspecting the crew has been killed by a sniper, after awhile John Cena grows tired or waiting and against his partners will heads into the area to check things out more closely. So this movie up to this point was awesome I was excited to see where it was going to go and then BAAAAM John Cena is hit with a bullet from a sniper, his partner runs to help and is then shot as well. His partner the spotter finds cover behind a wall and assess the situation to come to the conclusion that his situation is dire. Okay so the big actor in this movie is now laying face first on the ground bleeding and we are about fifteen minutes in and guess what HE STAYS THERE about 70% of the movie he is laying on his face. The spotter is pinned down and bleeding out, the enemy sniper's voice comes over the radio and conversation continues until the end of the movie and then the bad guy wins. Wrapping up here the main character or the one everyone is going to see is laying down the whole movie, and the bad guy his superman arms and can kill you at 1500 meters no problem, this movie had a bunch of potential but like Johnny football threw out all away. NEVER AGAIN.
Reviewed by Paul Allaer7 / 10
The mind games between an American soldier hiding from an Iraqi sniper
"The Wall" (2017 release; 93 min.) brings the story of Isaac. As the movie opens, we are reminded that "It's late 2007, and the Iraqi was is winding down". We then meet two servicemen who are out somewhere in the desert looking for an Iraqi sniper who has killed US contractors. After 22 hrs.,, Matthews decides to go in, but when he does he is shot. In the ensuing chaos, Isaac also gets shot, and in desperation throws himself behind a wobbly wall to hide out. It's not too long before Isaac is in radio contact with the Iraqi sniper (pretending to be an ally). At this point we're not even 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have 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 (mostly one-man) theater play set in the desert and in three scenes: the opening 10 min., the middle 60 min, and the concluding 20 min. The meat of the film is the 60 min. (playing out in real time) in which Isaac and the Iraqi sniper are playing mind games with each other (but we only see Isaac). The performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson is amazing (for one thing, he is out of breath the entire movie--due to heat exhaustion and from being shot). He carries the movie on his shoulders, both figuratively and literally. Along the way we also understand how it is that Isaac and Matthews ended up there, with no apparent backup or rescue plans. The movie does not contain any music (but for one instrumental playing over the end credits). Please note that the movie is shown here on Amazon and also other sources (such as IMDb) as having a running time of 81 min. This is simply not correct: the version I saw in 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 see it. The Saturday early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attend okay but still on the low side (considering it's the movie's opening weekend). Given the nature of the movie (a theater play in the desert) and its subject matter (the war in Iraq), I can't imagine this will play very long in theaters, so if this is something that might appeal to you, there's a good chance that you'll end up checking it out on Amazon Instant Video or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.