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Review: The Wall

Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars in Roadside Attractions THE WALL

Not knowing what The Wall was about, I went into it open-minded and hoping for the best. And with Doug Liman being the director behind a couple of movies (The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow) that I thoroughly enjoyed, I became even more interested in this movie as it’s also a return to his small budget roots as well. While his name being attached made me want to watch it, it was everything else that’s actually included that had me form an odd opinion of the movie itself.

Two soldiers on what appears to be a routine mission find themselves pinned down by a mysterious Iraqi sniper. They don’t know exactly where he is, but they know he’s close and they must do whatever they can to survive his onslaught. With only a wall and few other obstacles providing a small amount of protection, A battle of wills unfolds in the form of a fight that will come down to marksmanship and patience.

Although messages aren’t required for a movie to be of good quality, The Wall would have likely benefited from having one. At the very least, they could have made sure that there was some kind of point to it, but someone felt that there was no need for that. In a weird way, that’s also what prevents it from reaching the high level of status that it was flirting with through a large chunk of it.

Most of what is taking place in The Wall is able to keep your attention and captivate you while staying in one setting throughout the entire film. This is usually difficult to do and is done extremely well by Liman. With great skill, the director is able to create real tension because of this and the fact that you don’t definitively know how it’s going to end. I mean, you can take a guess and come at least close to how it will end, but there’s some things going on here that could lead you to believe something else may happen.

Speaking of the film’s ending, that’s also the biggest issue that I have with all that is seen. While the film is suspenseful and engaging, the conclusion turns it into something that’s insanely unrealistic. Now obviously, there are some flaws throughout The Wall‘s duration, but they’re easy to forgive since they help move the story forward. However, the flaws at the end bring that progression to a quick and sensational halt that makes the movie seem more like a horror flick than a psychological thriller about soldiers.

Although they’re different in some ways, the ending of The Wall made me think of the entire film as some sort of alternate version of 2003’s Phone Booth. Along with the fact that this is in a desert, the only real exception between the two is that there’s a wall in this one instead of a phone booth. Plus, that movie starring Colin Farrell and Forest Whitaker has the kind of ending that actually meshes with the rest of everything that came before it. While this ending is similar, it doesn’t fit and doesn’t allow for the ultimate conclusion to have at least somewhat of a similar pay off.

The ending also makes everything that’s been revealed about the main character meaningless. As The Wall moves along, there appears to be a nice character arc developing that would have likely made the overall story even better. Instead, we find out that this portion of the movie is only really here to stretch out the run time in order for this to reach the suitable amount of time necessary for it to be considered a feature-length film. I don’t know if that was the sole intention, but that’s what we get due to there being an extremely sub par ending waiting for us right before the credits start to roll.

As I was watching it, I felt like this had the chance to be one of those movies that sneaks up on you by providing you with a memorable experience. It’s a movie that could have made you think if there was some reason for it from a political or moral perspective. The only problem with that is that neither one of those things happens as it becomes just another small budget thriller that no one will watch. One or two changes could have possibly put The Wall in a position to become a cult classic at the very least. Unfortunately, the missteps don’t allow for that as we are only end up being offered a decent movie.

Rating: R

Director: Doug Liman

Aaron Taylor-Johnson
John Cena

Film Length: 90 minutes

Release Date: May 12, 2017

Distributor: Roadside Attractions

  • Score - 6.5/10
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