The Wall has an intriguing idea; the film follows two soldiers (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena) as they’re trapped behind a wall and are forced to communicate with an enemy solider in the midst of the Iraq War. It’s high stakes, and uses a limited environment in an attempt to keep things simple and intense. It’s a stretched concept; a film like this feels more like a student short than a high profile film, and even if it’s ideas don’t come together, it’s an intriguing watch.
Doug Liman has proven with films like The Bourne Identity, Swingers, and Edge of Tomorrow that he can make films that subvert common expectations for a genre. There’s some interesting ideas here about the nature of terrorism, and Liman should be commended for not be overbearing in a political message. Johnson also turns in a grounded, gritty performance with an emotional breakdown that remains the film’s highlight.
The film’s incredibly short run time, only 81 minutes, even feels too long, as a shorter cut may have raised the stakes and made a leaner, finer film. Liman is a talented enough filmmaker that he can keep an audience invested, even if the post-9/11 war feature has been done to death, with this year’s Sand Castle being the superior feature. It’s an intriguing experiment, worth a watch out of curiosity, but not quite enough to make it particularly memorable. Grade: B-