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The Wall (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) - DVD Review

The Wall

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DOUG Liman’s The Wall is an entertaining, if deeply flawed, sniper drama anchored by a strong central performance from Britain’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson.

Early on, it’s high on tension and what would you do conundrums. But it can’t sustain its momentum despite a taut 86 minute running time.

That it ultimately gets away with things more than it might is largely down to its leading man and an ending that, while increasingly predictable, is no less effective for it.

Johnson plays one of two US Sergeants during the last days of the war in Iraq, who has been called to investigate a sniper attack at a remote desert outpost.

Convinced the sniper has departed, one of the two – John Cena’s Shane Matthews – ventures out of cover to take a closer look at the casualties. But when he is shot and wounded, it’s left to Johnson’s Allen Isaac to try and save him, while luring the sniper out.

To make matters more desperate, he has only a fragile wall for cover and has been wounded himself in a firefighting exchange.

Liman, whose best work includes The Bourne Identity and Edge of Tomorrow, directs the action scenes with a clinical efficiency befitting the scenario and builds the tension nicely during the first third of the film.

He also contrives to give Isaac an audio connection to his tormentor, making their battle of wits verbal as well as physical.

This, too, initially gives the film an extra edge, particularly as the sniper seems to hold all of the cards.
But far from posing any really big ethical and moral questions from either men, Dwain Worrell’s screenplay is more content in having them trade insults and, with regard to ? in particular, make increasingly stupid decisions.

This, in turn, ultimately undermines the film’s credibility and reduces its tension.

Johnson does well, in spite of this, to make his character worth rooting for and Liman does eventually conjure a way out of the stand-off to deliver a potent ending. But far from offering anything really telling about the psychology of a sniper or the rights and wrongs of war, The Wall ultimately proves more content to deliver B-movie thrills and disposability.

Given its relationship to current events, that’s a missed opportunity.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 86mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: November 20, 2017