US Ranger Sniper, Staff Sargent Shane Matthews (John Cena), and his spotter, Sargent Allen “Eyes” Isaac, are investigating a distress call in the hot Iraqi desert above an oil pipeline construction area. From their camouflaged position they can see several dead bodies. They have waited close to 18 hours while sitting and observing the bodies and landscape, trying to determine what happened. Matthews decides the dead men below them must have been killed by a raid and after the hours of waiting he leaves the covered position to investigate up close. While Isaac believes that there is a chance this could be the work of a skilled sniper, he reluctantly agrees to let Matthews go.
As Isaac watches from cover Mathews surveys the carnage from up close and quickly realizes that Isaac must have been right. All of the men below were killed with skilled shots to the head. Before he can find cover or find where the shooter was positioned Mathews is shot in the stomach and falls to the ground. Isaac rushes to his aide but as soon as he gets close to his comrade he is shot in the knee. As shots rain down on him Isaac dives for cover behind a dilapidated wall. Now he is stuck behind fragile cover bleeding with his partner unable to move due to his wounds. Isaac scrabbles to radio for help but he only finds his radio antenna has been shot off. He has no idea where the shots came from only that he may be in the only safe place. Isaac is now suck behind a wall with no way to get to his severely wounded friend or call in reinforcements. Then over his short range two-way radio a voice can be heard and it’s not Matthews or help…it’s the enemy sniper.
The Wall is a suspense film directed by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, Fair Game and Mr. and Mrs. Smith). Overall the small cast gave good performances. I thought that John Cena did a good job in a limited role in this film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson did an adequate job, but since he was on screen by himself for the majority of the film I thought his performance was at times week. He was also really compelling at times which is why I think overall it was adequate. I think it was a good story but the build up to the end lacked the true suspense that could have made it a great story. I just didn’t have the ending that really made me sit on the edge of my seat. It felt like what was happening was inevitable. I commend the originality of the overall story. But when I am going to watch a suspenseful film I want just a little bit more. To me it lacked an edge and really captivating moment at the end. One of the things the film got right was how realistic it felt. The cinematography was gritty and fit the story really well.
Overall I came out of this film feeling good but thought that it was missing a little something. Worth a second viewing sometime in the future but probably save it for video or on demand.
2.5 out of 5
Second Review by Jennifer Fiduccia
The Wall, released by Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, stars Aaron Taylor – Johnson and John Cena, and is directed by Doug Liman.
I was expecting a typical “war movie”, but was taken by surprise by the psychological aspect of the film.
Answering a distress call, Army Ranger staff sergeant Shane Matthews (Cena) and his spotter, Allan Isaac “Eyes” (Taylor – Johnson) find everyone dead, shot in the head. The two men watch from a nearby hill for nearly 24 hours and see no signs of life, no movement. After discussing it, Sgt Matthews decides to move in for a closer look, despite the misgivings of his partner.
While Eyes covers him from the rear, Matthews walks down to the site to check out the remains of the fallen contractor civilians. While exploring the scene, he begins to feel uneasy, and begins to agree with Eyes that it may well be the work of an Iraqi sharp shooter sniper. As he decides to head back to the relative safety of the nearby hill where they had been keeping watch, he calls out to Eyes that the area doesn’t “feel right”.
Suddenly, he is shot and badly wounded.
Isaac rushes to help his fallen comrade, putting his own life at risk, and takes a bullet to the knee in the process.
Isaac manages (barely) to reach the relative safety of a crumbling nearby wall where he takes cover, watching helplessly as Matthews bleeds out in the sand.
Nearly the entire remainder of the movie takes place behind the wall.
Eyes uses his radio to try to reach help, but finds his antenna has been shot through by a bullet. Switching frequencies, Eyes reaches a man that he initially believes is someone back at a base that can help him and send a medivac, but soon realizes that this is not truly the case and that he is actually speaking to the sniper that shot him and his partner.
The sniper first encourages him, then threatens Eyes to talk, saying that he will shoot off Matthews face if Eyes doesn’t tell him about himself. At first Eyes resists, then tries to engage the sniper in conversation to try and listen for background noise that might give a clue to where he is hiding so that Eyes might be able to shoot him instead.
I didn’t feel that the movie was slow paced, and found it much more interesting than I thought that I would. It didn’t have me on the edge of my seat, but it did keep me guessing, and just when I almost thought all was going to be ok, a very unexpected plot twist came out of the blue and proved me wrong.
My husband thinks that military folks watching might dislike it for what seem to be instances of military “not following protocol and training”, but I think it shows that in the end, we are all human and subject to human fears and emotions, and sometimes those supersede what should be ingrained, trained responses that the military tries to instill.
My husband gives the movie 3.5 out of 5 stars and says that older teenagers and young adults ought to go see it to get an understanding of how war can be “over there”…. That it is a psychological war as much as one fought with guns and grenades, and also the depth of how the people over there dislike or even hate us, and the lengths they will go to in order to “get us back”.
I would give the movie 2.5 out of 5 stars.