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Review: The Wall

The Wall
05.12.2017
8 10

PLOT: Two soldiers on duty in Iraq find themselves the target of a mysterious sniper.

REVIEW: Doug Liman is no stranger to action. EDGE OF TOMORROW, MR. & MRS. SMITH and of course THE BOURNE IDENTITY all managed to give audiences an exciting time at the movies. In his latest, THE WALL, he takes on the very serious subject of war. Much like other feature films that examine the horrors that young soldiers face, it's brutal and intense, but there is something slightly unique. This is a small scale story that plays more like a thriller - think PHONE BOOTH in Iraq. With a short running time of 81 minutes, it is an impressively paced story that is as heartbreaking as it is terrifying. The violence is unsettling and downright horrific at times. And since it all takes place in one location with the majority of the focus on one actor, it’s a good thing they picked someone that could pull it off.

john cena aaron taylor johnson doug limon thriller drama war 2017 the wall

The story begins with two soldiers in Iraq watching a single wall, one that appears to be ready to come crumbling down. Matthews (John Cena) has his rifle ready and Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) watches for any sign of life. When Matthews is convinced they are clear, he makes his way to the aftermath of this deadly attack. Soon, he makes the discovery that they are not alone. A sniper is waiting and watching. After an attack, Isaac attempts to help his partner only to face this hidden menaces' wrath. After the two are separated by the old and corroded wall, Isaac finds himself communicating through radio with a man that may very well be the one attempting to kill the American soldiers.

As simple as the plot may be, Liman presents his story - with a script by Dwain Worrell - almost with a horror-like sensibility. While there are certainly familiar elements with his style, it never quite feels like a BOURNE movie in terms of action. In fact, it's far more brutal than anything you’d see in the Matt Damon starring franchise. At times bloody, and always a bit nerve-wracking, there is a confined nature to the nightmarish situation. In fact, much of the film relies on Mr. Taylor-Johnson speaking to his tormentor, a man who calls himself Juba (Laith Nakli). We hear his voice, but this is Isaac’s story. Thankfully, Liman keeps the suspense high without creating something improbable. This feels much too real, and you feel nearly every bullet hit.

When you're willing to put nearly the entire focus on one actor, you’d better hope they are up to the task. Thankfully, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is ready for it. With this, and last year’s haunting NOCTURNAL ANIMALS, the actor continues to take on challenging roles. Considering he spends most of the time speaking to a hidden foe, Aaron hits all the right emotional notes. As for John Cena, he is very believable as well, even if his part isn’t nearly as dramatic. When the two do work together, they share an easy chemistry together. Considering the last flick I saw Cena in was TRAINWRECK, I fully believe he is going to continue to grow as an actor. It would have been nice to see more of the two together, but frankly the separation made it all the more uncomfortable to watch.

Here is where it gets tricky. This is a powerful story that moves quickly and makes you think a bit. And then there is the final sequence. This is one of those rare times that I was angered by the ending. It is hard to fully examine why without giving it away, so I won’t go into detail and spoil it. There are specific choices that filmmakers have made that I applaud, but don’t actually appreciate as an audience member. And this of course is one of them. Again, to explain too much wouldn’t be fair to those planning to see this so I don’t want to say any more than that. However, I’d be curious to see how others view the final few minutes.

THE WALL is short and sweet - well not all that sweet. War is hell, and this is a prime example of how to make a claustrophobic and suspenseful feature about that very subject. The performances are solid, but it's Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Laith Nakli (we never see him, only hear what he has to say) who stand out and make the drama work. Even though this is technically a war movie, it is ultimately a very dark and vicious thriller. This certainly isn’t going to please those looking for pure summer fluff, as this may not be the battle you want to take on.

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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