The Wall Review - Gripping, Raw, Psychological Warfare

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The Wall, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, presents a contemporary wartime drama, a psychological cat and mouse, kill or be killed, snap trap with heightened suspense, mind bending mental game, played out in the heat of the Iraqi desert.

Directed by Doug Limon, The Wall stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, and Laith Nakli and is written by Dwain Worrell.

The Wall opens in Iraqi, where two soldiers are on patrol, the war is over, and our two marines, Isaac, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Matthews, played by John Cena, are waiting, eyes on the carnage 200 yards in front of them.

Isaac is the eyes, using a scope he explains the scene six maybe eight bodies, all head shots, Matthews, the marksman, believes the possibility of a hit and run. The sniper came in, hit and left.

The two banter back and forth, on possibilities, two hours later, Matthews is sure it is a hit and run and decides to head down to the scenes. As he begins to cross from their position to the sight, the crack, unmistakable, a ghost bullet pierces. He is down. 

Running to his partner, Isaac becomes the target of several shots, one blowing out his kneecap. He escapes sure death, or at least immediate death and tumbles over the wall to safety.

Desolate, deserted desert, no shade, no place to hide, dust and wind whipped sand plot their own course across the barren and god forsaken landscape. The middle eastern sun, the closest to hell most soldiers have experienced run patrol in the center of a furnace, a high heat oven, baked heat, the morning stifles, the afternoon only get hotter.

The only relief from the heat is evening and right now, evening is a long way off.

Isaac is alive and in pain. Soon after he manages the immediate, a tourniquet for his knee, dislodging the bullet from his kneecap and setting up a parameter he begins his search to find the sniper.

The sniper, Juba, who is never seen, and is played by Laith Nakli, wants to talk. Juba, whom for some soldiers was folklore in battle for some time, although Juba is probably not his real name the Iraqi’s were able to secure expert marksmen, and oddly as we find out American trained. During the days of better relationships, the U.S. Military not unlike currently, are assisting in training what could become the enemy.

Well, for our soldiers pinned down, one nameless, faceless expert marksman has murdered an entire civilian contractor team and their military escorts. The carnage has captured nearly everyone who has wondered onto the scene to help.

Somewhere within range, a well-armed marksman lies waiting, ready, fearless and is more than willing to take the shot.

Isaac and Juba begin to talk, with Isaac attempting U.S. military style breakdown and Juba using methods that are simple, murder the one person still alive in this bloodbath. As the film progresses we find Matthews is still alive, will probably bleed out shortly, and continues his mission even through his pain.

Isaac is bent on determining Juba’s position and killing him. As he slowly fades, his desire to simply return home, to American soil, and to live, are clouded by his past which the Sniper drives him to confess. Carrying the burden of an action that war bent the interpretation of fault, of blame.

The hours become a tense standoff where the mental and emotional toll causes Issac to unravel in one moment and then snap back with clarity and precision the next.

The Wall, one must remember is a film and, is very good. The film explores many aspects of war, especially War in the Iraqi/Afghanistan Desert Storm era. Without making a political statement on the lack of weaponry and defense preparedness, The Wall to some degree, I feel, presents some of those elements.

Doug Limon directs. As a fan of The Bourne Identity series of which Limon also directed the first film in that franchise which has earned more than a billion dollars at the box office, he brings his signature skill to this film.

The Wall is a three person, or three handed, ensemble with one always out of sight and the other nearly dead, so essentially the film is carried by Aaron Taylor Johnson, the sniper, and the elements.

The performances of Taylor-Johnson and Cena were very good. Authentic, resonating, genuine. They were impressive.  The sniper, who is never seen, is also impressive.

The Wall is a war drama. It is raw, elevated in wartime depiction, suspenseful, and gripping.

The Wall opens May 12, 2017 in theaters everywhere. See it.

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