The Wall

August 11, 2017

Review, Theatrical, This Week 1 Comment

...a tight little thriller custom-made to straddle the line between cinema-worthy and streaming fodder.
The Wall

The Wall

Travis Johnson
Year: 2017
Rating: MA15+
Director: Doug Liman
Cast:

Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli

Distributor: Roadshow
Released: August 10, 2017
Running Time: 90 minutes
Worth: $15.00

FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

…a tight little thriller custom-made to straddle the line between cinema-worthy and streaming fodder.

In the dying days of the Iraq War, a US Army sniper team consisting of gunman Shane Matthews (John Cena) and his spotter, Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are dispatched to investigate the massacre of a repair crew and their security detail at a remote desert pipeline. There, they are attacked by Juba (Laith Nakli) , a legendary Iraqi sniper. With Matthews badly wounded and lying exposed, Isaac takes cover behind… well, it’s in the title.

This is an interesting little formal exercise from Amazon Studios and director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, American Made), and you can certainly view it as an exploration of the possibility of doing a low-budget film with a known cast that can compete, if not go toe-to-toe, with the blockbuster behemoths that bestride that current theatrical landscape. The Wall is budgeted at US$3m, takes place in one location, and – one sequence aside – has a cast of three, one of whom we never see, and another of whom spends the bulk of the film unconscious.

And it works a treat, due to Taylor-Johnson’s one man show as the wounded but cunning Isaac, and tense, terse direction from Liman, who isn’t afraid to reach into the horror toolbox to find something to tune up his small-scale war movie. Seeing as he’s the only active character for much of the film, our sympathies lock onto Isaac from the get-go, and the script never makes him betray them. Isaac never does anything that shifts him into the “too dumb to live” category. He’s smart, capable, tough (he deals with a leg wound in a wince-worthy but admirably stoic fashion), but he’s pinned down by an unseen assailant, low on rations, stuck under a merciless sun, and almost completely out of options. The fun and tension comes in seeing him use his brain and his limited resources to deal with his situation before either Juba puts a draft through his dome or he simply bleeds out from his wounds.

There are a couple of points that push the envelope in terms of plausibility, mostly in terms of Juba’s almost supernatural accuracy with his rifle, and the film’s final movement feels like we’ve jumped genre tracks entirely, but not enough to break the compact with the audience. This is a tight little thriller custom-made to straddle the line between cinema-worthy and streaming fodder. No matter the context you catch it in, you’ll have a good time.

Share:

Comments

Leave a Comment