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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 2, 2017

The Wall Movie Review: Its Bleak Ending Will Not Satisfy But Irritate Most Local Viewers

‘THE WALL’ is a war thriller set in 2007 when the war in Iraq has been declared officially over. Two American soldiers, Shane Matthews (wrestler John Cena) and Allan Isaac (Aaron Taylor Johnson, who won Golden Globe best actor for “Nocturnal Animals” last year but was totally ignored in the Oscars) have spent more than 20 hours watching a site in the desert where a massacre just occurred. It's a pipeline under construction where ten people lie lifeless, all shot in the head.

Matthews thinks the coast is clear and goes down to look at the carnage and suddenly, he also gets hit. His lookout tries to help him but more bullets greet them. Isaac gets a bullet on the leg while Matthews is more badly injured. The only cover Isaac has is the remnants of a brick wall, from which the movie got its title.

The rest of the movie happens while Isaac is hiding behind that wall and while Matthews lies wounded in the desert sand. They fight to survive while a mysterious sniper they never see has all the advantages over them. Isaac tries to get help with his ruined radio and someone responds. But he later realizes that it’s actually the voice of the Iraqi sniper impersonating an American officer, trying to trick him to get information as where he is exactly hiding. He believes the sniper is the notorious Juba (we never see him but just hears his voice) and Isaac also tries outwit him so he can also locate the sniper and save his partner and himself before he gets them first.

The plot is seemingly simple and takes place in a single location, with only three characters and one of them is someone you never even get to see, but it’s presented with some very thrilling, terrifying moments. It’s violent, bloody and the suspense is kept high and real. The movie is directed by Doug Liman, who gave us some hit action thrillers like “The Bourne Identity”, “Mr. & Mrs. Smith”, “Edge of Tomorrow”.

He succeeds in creating the right milieu and atmosphere for the film, which unfolds without any musical score. Running at a well paced and compact one hour and 25 minutes, you can really feel like you’re inhaling the dust in the desert and you totally sympathize with the soldiers who don’t even have water under the scorching sun. They are likewise suffering from their wounds, with their very lives threatened by the wily sniper.

It’s in the sniper, an Iraqi who speaks English well and even tries to speak with an American accent, that the movie becomes a bit unbelievable. He’s very talkative and tells Isaac he wants to get to know him better. He says the wall was formerly part of a schoolhouse and starts quoting the poem “The Raven” of Edgar Allan Poe. He knows more about classic American literature than the American soldier himself.

This all leads to a very bleak ending that will not satisfy most local viewers whose mindset is for brighter conclusions. We don’t want to spoil your viewing pleasure so we won’t explain too much, but some viewers were annoyed by it.

The great part of the movie focuses on Taylor Johnson as Isaac, whose character has a secret and turns out to have some other motivations for staying in Iraq even after the war is over. Johnson pulls it off quite admirably, hitting all the right notes and making it all work, considering he’s actually British and not an American. We also remember him for the “Kickass” movies and as Vronsky in the last remake of “Anna Karenina”. John Cena has a shorter part but he and Johnson have an easy chemistry together in the opening sequences of the movie. When they get separated and wounded, it made things more disconcerting to watch.