Published On: Fri, May 12th, 2017

‘The Wall’ is a focused, suspenseful war film, but fails to find a heart or passion

Amazon Studios’ The Wall arrives in an era of incredible war films (Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty, American Sniper, Hacksaw Ridge) to create a new twist on the stereotypical war drama. Director Doug Liman’s approach with a singe location and a story focused on a creepy threat with psychological overtones rather than bloody action sequences may have trouble finding an audience.

Set in 2007 as the Iraq War is drawing down, Sergeant Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews (John Cena) are dispatched to investigate and respond to a hostile murder of contractors working on a new oil pipeline. After 20 hours of baking in the sun, the pair cautiously approach the crime scene, only to be ambushed by a skilled marksmen who has also highjacked their communications – they have walked into a trap.

Almost all of the film centers on Johnson’s Isaac pinned down behind a wall trying to stay alive, call for help and at point, scheme a counterattack. Isaac is injured, communications are down (or at least faulty) and Matthews may or may not be alive. The suspense builds as the attacker opens the line of communcations, baiting the young soldier into banter which cause emotional and psychological trauma, overshadowing the physical threat at times.

Fans of Cena will be disappointed to learn that Matthews is face down in the sand for almost all of the film. This is Johnson’s film with only the voice Laith Nakli (24: Legacy) as the sniper Juba fulfilling the role of antagonist.

Amazon did a great job of getting Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity), Johnson, Cena and Nakli because The Wall is high quality without a massive budget.

The issue is Dwain Worrell’s script.

Juba’s bizarre Islamic take on revenge paints America as the bad guy, but The Wall is never about politics. Isaac and Juba even banter over being “nonreligious” as the picture avoids religion and theology.

The Wall ventures in the strange world of Hitchcock and M. Night Shyamalan with a long-winded build up to a series of twists and a surprise ending. The soldiers, like many Hollywood films, are foul-mouthed, crude men who are not the easiest to like. Long gone is the noble, honorable soldiers of John Wayne’s era of war films (maybe they could learn a thing or two from the main character of Hacksaw Ridge).

It was great to see a small scale war film and it’s always great to see a smaller studio like Amazon continue to grow, learn and expand.

Overall, The Wall isn’t much beyond the sum of “pretty good small things” and is hindered by the lack of identity or action. The tagline is accurate “This isn’t war. It’s a game” but the problem is: the audience doesn’t really ever care to play along and when it does, the film ends.

The Wall earns 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars


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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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  1. Doug Liman: ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ sequel called ‘Live Die Repeat and Repeat’ with Emily Blunt, Tom Cruise confirmed | The Global Dispatch says:

    […] The Wall stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena as U.S. soldiers trapped by an enemy sniper during the troop draw down of forces in Iraq. Full review can be found HERE […]

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