The Wall is a crumbling, physical structure somewhere in Iraq.
It’s 2007 and the ‘war on terror’ is winding down. Bush Jr has declared victory and rebuilding taking place. Alas, for those contractors looking to make a quick buck, there’s a sniper out there and he’s bumped off all eight men in the space of 30 seconds…. and the film begins at the point where that has already happened, and soldiers Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – better known as ‘Ize’, and Matthews (John Cena) have been sat still for 18 hours later and need to make a move.
The sniper must’ve gone… surely? Well, all I knew from the trailer is that the baddie’s still out there, since otherwise we wouldn’t really have a film… unless it was a similar case of Waiting for Godot.
Note that they’re not scared of a wall, per se, but what’s behind it, as they don’t know the location of the sniper, and they’re just not sure if he’s still there.
Early on, you get a sense that this is something a bit different from your average film. Amazon and Netflix are turning out a number of films which are far better than what passes muster in the cinema, and with a low budget, great writing and a director with the calibre of Doug Liman, you can’t go far wrong.
For anyone unsure about Liman, he brought us Edge of Tomorrow and the first Jason Bourne movie, which was streets ahead of anything charlatan Paul Greengrass gave us, since Liman’s Bourne movie was the best of the bunch. Oh, and don’t forget American Made, starring Tom Cruise, which is another of this year’s best movies!
In The Wall, the realism is spot-on and you really do believe they’re out in the middle of nowhere, battling for their lives. There’s even a bit of humour, as Matthews comments on how it’s so hot that, “My balls have melted into one ball!”.
However, can they identify the sniper’s position, take him out and head to freedom? Well, you’ll have to watch this to find out.
Plus, can you get a tense 90-minute drama out of a two-hander and an expert director? Yes, you can.
On a rarity, I switched OFF the subtitles. Why? Because, for example, early on when someone’s about to get shot, their subtitles say something like, “This is a sentence…” and you know they’re going to be hit. I did have to put them back on a bit later when the dialogue wasn’t too clear, but that’s mainly because it’s dialogue coming through a crackly radio.
The only other things I’ll say is that it has a very clever ending (no clues, BTW), and an observartion for anyone who’s seen this, so I’ll hide it behind a spoiler:
The film is presented in the theatrical 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio and in 1080p high definition and for a Blu-ray of a modern film, you’d be surprised if the picture wasn’t spot-on. The extras, below, also confirm how various light filters were used to maximise visual effect as the long day draws on for Ize and Matthews.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and obviously there’s no traditional score in this as tension does the talking, but at times there’s tremendously effective howling wind, plus the ‘crack bang’ of sniper fire.
The extras are as follows and there isn’t too much here, but it gives you a flavour:
- Featurettes: The menu looks bigger than it is as there’s four things which are only 2-3 minutes apiece, mainly featuring comment from Liman, the two leads and writer Dwain Worrell. These are Behind The Wall with Doug Liman (2:25), Military Tactics (2:40), Sand Storms (2:01) and Who is Ize? (2:48).
- Facts From The Frontline: A Visual Journey Through The Wall (11:10): A better supplemental which gives you tons of text info about how the film was made, split across the entire film. Hence, the are spoilers in these extras. But then if you’re watching extras before you watch the movie, you need help.
- Audio commentary (11:10): from Doug Liman and Aaron Taylor-Johnson.
The menu mixes clips from the movie with the sound effects of war, not particularly from this film I don’t think. There are English subtitles and a bog-standard 12 chapters (how many times have I said that one every five minutes is ideal??), plus there’s another cardinal sin – trailers before the main menu, so I’m not going to name them. They should only be in the extras.
Running time: 90 minutes
Released: November 20th 2017
Picture: 1080p High Definition
Sound: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Hawk Scope)
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Doug Liman
Producer: David Bartis
Screenplay: Dwain Worrell
Isaac: Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Matthews: John Cena
Juba: Laith Nakli (voice)
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.