“What do you want?” asks Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). “I want to get to know you,” replies the enemy Iraqi sniper who has the American soldier pinned down after shooting his comrade in arms in the psychological war film, The Wall.
During the last official days of the Iraq war, two U.S. soldiers – a sniper named Matthews (John Cena) and his spotter, Isaac – spend hours trying to detect the location of an enemy sniper. Matthews finally becomes convinced the sniper who took out five unfortunate men a few days earlier is gone. When Matthews heads out to verify the sniper’s withdrawal, he’s shot by the cleverly concealed enemy sniper. Isaac attempts to make it to Matthews but is shot in the leg. His radio is also hit, rendering it fairly useless. Running for cover, Isaac jumps over an old crumbling wall.
Isaac calls out to Matthews, discussing their wounds and the possible location of the enemy sniper. Isaac is successful at repairing his radio and calls in reporting a man down, requesting an emergency evac. He suddenly realizes the voice on the other end doesn’t sound American and orders whoever it is to identify himself. In a creepy twist, the enemy sniper admits he’s the one talking on the radio because he wants to get to know Isaac and Matthews before he kills them.
Directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Jumper), The Wall is a tense war drama with a solid performance by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Unfortunately, the film suffers from drawn-out pacing, one-dimensional characters, and too much dialogue. Aaron Taylor-Johnson gives a noteworthy performance as Isaac, the spotter who failed to find the sniper and now finds he and his friend pinned down by the enemy. He shows the pain, frustration, anger, and fear that Isaac goes through while struggling to stay alive and find a way to still take down his enemy.
The first half of the film is the best part as it displays the exhaustion of war which in this scenario leads to a potentially lethal mistake. The idea of an enemy sniper reaching out to his targets is intriguing, with the enemy sniper playing psychological games with his wounded prey. However, once the set-up is in place The Wall runs into trouble as the pace slows and the storyline feels a bit too contrived. It also becomes clear a little before the half-way point how it’s most likely going to end, which kills the tension and suspense.
Bogged down by dialogue and lacking any character development, The Wall tries to be a psychological thriller but ultimately comes up short.
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some war violence
Release Date: May 12, 2017
Running Time: 81 minutes