Reviewed byPaul AllaerVote: 7/10/10
"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.
Reviewed byrockman182Vote: 7/10/10
No this isn't The Great Wall with ponytailed Matt Damon. Its muchbetter anyways. Doug Liman is quite solid as a filmmaker. The firstBourne film is the best out of the lot, and Edge of Tomorrow was fairlycreative and engaging. Here he brings a small budget, a tiny cast, anda single locale. Yet this film brings an enormous amount to the tablein terms of tension, sufficient writing, and gripping action thatrevives around acting for survival.
The film follows two soldiers who watch over a site for pipelineconstruction. The sergeant is shot down by a hidden Iraqi sniper, whilehis spotter runs behind a wall after being shot in the leg. The spotter(played by a really good Aaron Taylor-Johnson) must not only try tosave himself but also his sergeant while communicating with anextremely dangerous and accurate sniper. The thing about this film isthat its minimal in production yet offers so much.
I'm very impressed with ATJ this year. He was the best part of theexcellent Nocturnal Animals and is very convincing as Isaac in thisfilm. The film is a really thrilling survival film that specializes intense moments, substantial character development, and a riveting gameof cat and mouse. You never even see the sniper in the film but wow ishe a menacing force. The film is short and doesn't overstay its welcomewhich really works in its favor. Its also not as predictable as onewould think.
I'm most impressed by the fact that a film that I expected absolutelynothing from ended up being worthwhile. It's not going to win anyawards or earn plaudits but it shows the strength of its lead actor andthe strength of Liman with such limited use of pieces. Definitely wortha watch and remains fresh enough to avoid being a bland Iraq-Americanwar film.
Reviewed byDavid Ferguson (firstname.lastname@example.org)Vote: 6/10/10
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).
Two American Soldiers are trapped by a lethal sniper, with only an unsteady wall between them.