Scattered Shia LaBeouf-starrer about the dangers of PTSD is largely a misfire, but strong...
Tense war drama is one-dimensional and wonderfully engaging because of it.
Is it worth $10? Yes
We occasionally forget that movies don’t need globetrotting escapades, emotional histrionics or lavish visuals to soar on the big screen. Sometimes the simplest premise can yield the greatest drama. All a movie really needs, as “The Wall” reminds us, is quality writing, sturdy directing and solid performances.
A soldier. A wall. A sniper. That’s the core of this gripping war drama set in 2007 Iraq. American soldiers Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Shane Matthews (John Cena) are on a 20-hour stakeout monitoring a cobbled, crumbling wall they erroneously believe is hiding a sniper. All they can see are dead security guards and contractors who were working on an oil pipeline.
Credit also goes to the actors: Nakli is a menacing force as the voice of the sniper, and Cena plays a tough guy, but it’s more nuanced and human than his pro wrestling alter ego. The real standout, however, is Taylor-Johnson, a recent Golden Globe winner for “Nocturnal Animals” who spends most of the film alone on screen. Not all actors can carry a film the way he does here: We know Allen is hurting, and one false move means he’s dead, yet we never tire of his ingenuity in discerning the sniper’s location and fortitude to survive.
This is no-frills filmmaking at its finest – tense, unrelenting, and endlessly captivating. It’s mostly void of political commentary and there’s no musical score, and that’s fine because “The Wall” doesn’t need either. At its most basic and brutal level, war is about strangers killing each other, and in many ways that’s all that needs to be captured. Liman, cinematographer Roman Vasyanov (“Fury,” 2014), and editor Julia Bloch (“Green Room,” 2015) have crafted a movie-going experience that you will not soon forget.
Did you know?
After scouting locations all over the world, filming was completed in 14 days in northern…Los Angeles?!