Review: Feelbad Iraq war thriller The Wall blows its credibility

John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews in The Wall. Picture: Amazon Studios/David James

John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews in The Wall. Picture: Amazon Studios/David James - Credit: Archant

Hunter and hunted size each other up in Doug Liman's anti gung-ho film, but the small scale situation of soldier and sniper undercuts the tense by over estimating the enemy.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Sergeant Allen Isaac and John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews in The W

Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Sergeant Allen Isaac and John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews in The Wall. Picture: Amazon Studios/David James - Credit: Archant

The Wall (15)

**

In a change of pace from making large Hollywood pieces like Mr & Mrs Smith and The Edge of Tomorrow, director Doug Liman has come up with a feelbad Iraq War movie that is pitched on such a itsy bitsy teeny ween scale, it would probably be better served put on as a stage show.

John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Sergeant Allen Isaac in The W

John Cena as Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Sergeant Allen Isaac in The Wall. Picture: Amazon Studios/David James - Credit: Archant

Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews (John Cena) is a sniper in the US army who works in the Iraq desert with his spotter, Sergeant Allen Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson).


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The two men are despatched to a pipeline construction site to eliminate any potential threats. After more than 20 hours staking out the exposed location, Matthews and Isaac are assured that the construction site is safe and they prepare to leave.

Suddenly, Matthews is hit by a bullet fired by a cunning Iraqi sniper called Juba (Laith Nakli), who had the US soldiers in his sights the entire time. Isaac runs to his colleague's aid but is pinned down behind a crumbling wall while Matthews lays almost lifeless at the mercy of the shooter.

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When Isaac attempts to call for help using his damaged radio, he discovers that Juba has stolen a radio and is able to communicate with him. Hunter and hunted size each other up in the sweltering heat, hoping to outsmart each other before their water supplies run out.

Stringing out the climax of Full Metal Jacket, the situation of one soldier stuck behind a wall, and another laid out in full view of a sniper seems like a tense situation, but its credibility is blown by the theatrical contrivance of turning it into a dialogue with the enemy.

I don't know what the opposite of gung ho is, but this is it. Unless you made your fortune in it, the Iraq war is now generally regarded as a mistake, but The Wall goes above and beyond the call of duty to really rub America's face in the dirt. The Iraqi enemy is smarter, better educated and quotes Poe at the poor, oblivious grunt.

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