Review of THE WALL (2017), A Tense Military Drama

Review of THE WALL (2017), A Tense Military Drama

This movie review looks at The Wall, an Amazon original film, is a tense military drama focused on one location and an ongoing set of events. In the film you see names like Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena, well, since Johnson buffed way up since Kick-Ass, and Cena is, well, already buffed up, you have to wonder what kind of film you're going to get? Johnson is the actor who pulled off a great role when he faced off with Godzilla, while all we've ever seen of Cena is big guy, action roles. Which, admittedly, he does make it look good.

But in the The Wall, we have a desert scenario where two snipers (Cena and Johnson) are camped out, looking over a scene where some men were ambushed and they dig in, waiting for the attacker, presumed sniper, to show themselves.

But after 20 hours of being dug in, Cena's character is tired of the wait, being pretty sure that no sniper is going to wait out an old kill zone for more than 20 hours, goes down to investigate the scene, where vehicles and bodies are strewn about, near what's left of an old building, just a solitary wall.

Yes, a wall. A fragile, dirty, dusty wall barely standing the test of time, weather and winds. A wall that for most of the movie will provide succor, cover and hope to our snipers.

Sure enough, once Cena gets down to the site, as soon as he realizes everyone has been killed by head shots, he starts to warn Johnson, but gets shot and down he goes. Hard. But Johnson runs to the rescue of his partner, sliding down the hill, tumbling through the dirt and swirling dust to grab his partner and drag him behind the wall.

But then a bullet hits his radio and while he's lurching around in stark terror, another and another hits him, taking out his water bottle and then his knee. He goes down and gets to cover behind this fragile wall. Johnson thinks the sniper is the run of the mill kind of guy taking advantage of a situation, but in the ensuing radio conversation between Johnson and the sniper, the sniper lets him know that he aimed for the base of his radio antenna and his water bottle. And suddenly Johnson realizes they're in deep shit!

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The film was directed by Doug Liman whose resume includes some great films like Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity and one of my all-time favorites, Mr. and Mrs. Smith. So it's no surprise that his delivery of the story, his style, grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go of it.

The Wall is a film that has very little action, but lots of tension to make up for it as our guys parlay over the radio with the unseen enemy. Even the viewer knows they're in deep shit because when you see the bullets hit their target we don't hear the crack of the enemy sniper rifle for another few seconds. He is a long, long way off and probably not reachable. Nor easy to figure out where he is out there in the endless desert that stretches out for miles.

As the film progresses and the situation settles in, Johnson, in a new accent I've not heard him use in past films, carries the story while Cena pulls off a serious role a lot better than I was willing to give him credit for.

Don't get me wrong, it's not a deep tale of whoa or reflections on the past or what not. This is a very typical or classic Saturday night flick that could possibly keep different types of movie fans engaged. You see, I know that like my wife, there are those out there that love the story set ups but are kind of blasay about all the film-ending action. But this story is different enough to have you feeling like you're right there, behind the wall, trying to figure out where the sniper is. Wondering what new trick or bait is going to come at our characters with each new scene.

For once, I felt like a 90-minute film was the perfect movie length. Usually I want my money's worth and will rarely go pay big time theater prices for a 90-minute flick, hoping it will be good. But I think this one would have made my approval list, had I gone to the movie theater to watch it.

IMDb users gave the film a 6.1/10, while the 'professional' critics ended up giving it a 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, which throws me for a loop. It's not often fans and the industry critics agree. Though a 6 seems low for how I'm going on about the virtues of this film, it's probably not off the mark. With only a few cast members to hold up a story of tension, it does depend heavily on the casting. And I have yet to be disappointed by Johnson, and somewhat surprised by Cena.

And if you do go off and watch this film, keep something in mind: I have been extremely coy in how I wrote about this film. If you've not seen any outlines of it, I want you to go into it completely blind to any real spoilers. I think you might appreciate that. As it stands, I don't think you'll feel like you've wasted your time watching The Wall, but it's up to you and if you're a fan of Taylor's or not.

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