The Wall

wallSTARS3U.S. Army Sergeant Allen “Ize” Issac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his spotter Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews (John Cena) are on a mission. They’re in Iraq to retaliate after U.S. contractors building a pipeline, are killed.  Matthews is shot by a sniper and when Ize attempts to rescue him, he too is injured by the unseen assailant. He seeks a safe area. The title refers to the long barrier of crumbling stones that Isaac quickly hides behind as he communicates with the adversary who is trying to take his life.

The Wall is a movie of words. The story by aspiring screenwriter Dwain Worrell actually made the Black List, a compilation of the most liked unproduced screenplays, in 2014. The Wall was ultimately purchased and produced by Amazon studios, their very first spec script. Worrell’s compact drama details a single conversation between the U.S.Issac and a heard but not seen Iraqi sniper (Laith Nakli). Director Doug Liman, known for action extravaganzas like Edge of Tomorrow, Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, scales his action aesthetic way back for this lean-and-mean war tale. And the chronicle is indeed mean. The situation is tense and the futility of war is highlighted with deft precision. It is particularly significant that we learn at the start that the Iraq war is supposedly over. Yet for these combatants, that designation is meaningless.

The Wall has a lot going for it. It has a tightly concentrated script by Dwain Worrell. There is an engaging performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson in what is essentially a one-man show and it has a brisk running time. The screenplay is particularly clever as the sniper draws information from his opponent. Ize is clearly at a disadvantage and actor Taylor-Johnson makes this soldier immediately affecting.  It’s easy for the audience to feel empathy for this character. I was reminded of Rodrigo Cortés’ 2010 single location set Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. That also had a unique take on the Iraq war through a conversation. The Wall isn’t quite as claustrophobic as that picture, but it’s close. Their interaction plays out like a chess match as the unrelenting stress of the conditions escalates. The dusty bleak landscape only adds to the tension. The account ends in a manner over which I still have mixed emotions. It’s either smug or smart.  I’m on the fence…or more appropriately, “the wall”.  Either way, if brevity is the soul of wit, then this artfully focused drama is well worth your 80 minutes.


9 Responses to “The Wall”

  1. smilingldsgirl Says:

    Cool. I wondered about this so may have to check it out. Thanks


    • I had no desire to see King Arthur or Snatched last weekend so this seemed like a good choice. I was right.

      It’s rated R so perhaps that’s why you skipped it, but given your love for another [much more violent] war movie (Hacksaw Ridge), I’d urge you to check this out soon. Given its box office performance, it won’t be in theaters long.

      Liked by 1 person

      • smilingldsgirl Says:

        No it wasnt the R rating. I just saw Their Finest instead and watched Big Little Lies but I was intrigued by this. Will give it a watch


  2. A pleasant little surprise. Kind of nice to have a quick 80 minute watch sometimes! Probably gonna be out of theaters by this weekend if the box office is anything to go by; this didn’t even crack a million last weekend.

    Maybe ATJ is starting to find his groove in films?


  3. This was pretty good. Did not like the ending, but I was intrigued. 3 stars


  4. The Wall was barely on my radar before because I’m not a big fan of Aaron Taylor-Johnson and I just assumed it was probably not going to be good considering it didn’t get much promotion. Your review actually makes me want to see it. Sounds like a pretty good, tight war film.


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