“The Wall” stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, and Laith Nakli. Released on May 12, 2017, the film has two soldiers being pinned down by an Iraqi sniper, with nothing but a wall between them.
The film is directed by Doug Liman, who also directed films such as The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow. You might not be familiar with this film, but you might be familiar with its director. Liman has been known for making films that are filled with gripping action that holds you tight until the very end. His last film, Edge of Tomorrow, was an unexpected surprise for everyone, including me, due to its unique take on the respawning scenario. While his latest project doesn’t involve any aliens or any type of video game mechanic, it does involve a simple, life-or-death situation that takes place in one location. The only question that came to my mind is whether or not it works as an 80-minute long feature.
If you’re going into this film expecting a lot of war violence and explosions, then it’s possible that you will be disappointed. While it does resemble a war film, there’s actually a small amount of shooting and a huge amount of dialogue between the three main actors. This strategy can go either two ways depending on its execution. It can be a slow and painful ride or an eye-opening, thrilling experience. I’m happy to say that the film is the latter. Taylor-Johnson delivered a pretty impressive performance as Sergeant Issac, one of the two soldiers who are pinned down by an Iraqi sniper named Juba, played by Nakli. While Juba doesn’t appear in person throughout the entire film, he can be heard through Issac’s radio. I can easily say that Juba is the kind of antagonist who likes to mess with the protagonist’s head and is not that easily fooled, and Nakli is the right actor to portray that type of character. Doug Liman did a great job at making each conversation between Issac and Juba as engaging as possible, while also making this entire situation feel realistic. They really want you to know how painful it is to get stuck behind an unsteady wall while an unseen sniper watches your every move. It does have a couple of slow parts for an 80-minute long movie, but they didn’t change the fact that I was glued to every scene of the film. Liman knows exactly how to make use of the intensity for a certain scene despite having a couple of shooting sequences, which proves that sometimes the action isn’t the only way to make a film that’ll make the audience’s hearts pound louder than the sound of a bullet going through a person’s skin. Also, as a brief reminder, this film has a lot of foul language that can be heard almost every few seconds or more, so if you’re not a fan of that, then I’m not sure if this is the right film for you.
Overall, in the midst of the high-budgeted summer blockbusters, sequels, and reboots, “The Wall” is a small, yet effective, psychological war thriller that relies heavily on realism and intensity. Filled with impressive performances from the cast, Liman’s smart direction, and its eye-opening series of dialogue-driven thrills, this film shows that the right amount of ingredients can create a character-focused film that’s just as engaging and intense as an ordinary action-focused film. It’s very likely that this film will get overshadowed by next weekend’s slate of potential summer blockbusters, but if you’re in a mood for something simple or if you like some of Liman’s other films, then it’s definitely worth checking out.