With all the threat of war that seems to be swirrling around Washington these days, it may be time for a war movie to make us feel claustrophobic, fearful, and morally confused. And if we do need such movie, The Wall certainly it.

The Wall, directed by Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. SmithThe Bourne Identity), follows two soldiers, trapped in an Iraqi desert during the Iraq war, as they are hunted by a mythical enemy sniper.

We first meet SSG Mathews (John Cena) and SGT Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) the side of a hill, decked out in all sorts of camouflage. They have been scoping out a horrid scene in the valley below for over 20 hours. Eight bodies lay strewn across the desert, all with gun shots straight into their heads. From the looks of it, a group of civilian contractors were building an oil pipeline when they were shot at. A rescue team came to save them but they met a similar fate.

Assuming the sniper (Laith Nakli) has left, Mathews foolishly heads down into the valley to put an end to the question. He is promptly shot in the stomach. Isaac comes down to save him and he too is shot, but only in the knee. He jumps behind a crumbling wall made of stones and calls his superiors for help. As it turns out, the sniper has hijacked their communications system and Isaac has no one to talk to but his enemy.


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The Wall is shot in a single location – that location is the wall, if you hadn’t guessed – and while a single location can grow tiresome, The Wall manages to keep it somewhat interesting. There is a tremendous sense of place, aided by a flat, shining sun, and frequent dust storms. No matter where you may be when you watch the film, you will feel claustrophobic.

All three performances by the film’s cast are well executed although we only hear Nakli’s voice and never see his face. Taylor-Johnson carries the film like he carries his military gear – that is to say, he does it well and efficiently, but he grunts a lot.

The Wall is short – it barely runs 90 minutes long – and because of this, it is mostly able to keep the tension up from the first shot until the last. Isaac’s confusion is the audiences confusion and unless you’re a genius, you will learn things alongside the frightened soldier, which makes for an interesting thriller.

The Blu-ray edition of The Wall features audio commentary with Liman and Taylor-Johnson, a featurette that looks at the making of the film, and four behind the scenes vignettes.

The Wall will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on August 15.

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