Director – Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity)
Cast – Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena
Plot – American soldiers Isaac (Taylor-Johnson) and Matthews (Cena) get trapped by an Iraqi sniper after the two go on a scouting mission alone in the Iraqi desert.
“You think you know it all. You think it’s simple. That I am your enemy. But we are not so different, you and I”
Review by Eddie on 01/03/2018
In between 2014’s brilliant Sci-Fi romp Edge of Tomorrow and last year’s underrated thriller American Made, director Doug Liman took a detour to the more sombre space of movie-making and directed this character driven Iraq based thriller about two rival snipers trapped in a life or death battle in the harsh surrounds of the middle-eastern dust bowl.
Forgoing his usual hand-held frenetic style of filmmaking, Liman has clearly tried to find his films thrills in other ways with The Wall but this small ensemble piece that largely focuses its time on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s wounded American solider Isaac as he enters into a battle of wits and sharp shooting with the never seen, only heard Iraq sniper “The Ghost” is in dire need of more pulse pounding action as we begin to realise that Johnson hiding behind a wall for an hour is only going to take us so far in the entertainment stakes.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with films forgoing the grand-scale to instead focus on the tension of a small-scale life or death event (Buried springs to mind, even the epic Das Boot) but Liman’s film struggles to maintain its initial intriguing set-up as the bullets stop flying and the so-so nature of what Liman is trying to achieve starts taking full effect.
Having The Ghost communicate and taunt Isaac as the two spar over a radio as Isaac’s comrade Matthew’s lay motionless before him (John Cena fans should look elsewhere to see their beloved ex-wrestler ply his acting chops) can only take the film so far and while Liman is trying to show the two sides of the war and those that fight in it there are better ways to tell both sides of the story.
Unusually also for a Liman film, The Wall’s action is second rate and with the tension deflated by long and arduous sections of Isaac looking at a trash heap or The Ghost quoting Edgar Allen Poe poems, even when things ramp up a notch it’s not enough to make The Wall worth your time even with a committed Taylor-Johnson trying his best with a role that didn’t exactly provide him with the best of material to work with.
Final Say –
What could’ve been a white-knuckle battle of wits and survival instincts instead ends up being a bit of a dust-filled bore. It’s nice to see Liman try his hand at something a little different to his usual repertoire but The Wall is neither exciting enough or smart enough to recommend, while it’s misguided ending makes the whole experience that much more frustrating upon reflection.
2 bags of Skittles out of 5