image

American films

The Wall film review: Aaron Taylor-Johnson stars as a wounded sniper in Doug Liman’s stripped-down military thriller

It is no small feat to create an unbearable sense of tension and claustrophobia in an endless expanse of windswept desert, but director Doug Liman does so brilliantly with the help of Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s impressive performance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 7:02pm

3/5 stars

A US Army sharpshooter finds himself pinned down by an Iraqi sniper in The Wall, a stripped-down military thriller by Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow).

Caught beneath the searing desert sun with only a collapsing wall for cover, the wounded Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson in an impressively physical performance) must endure a psychological battle of wits, as his unseen attacker (Laith Nakli) goads him over the radio.

The production’s modest scale and single location do nothing to temper the horrors of modern warfare. Recalling everything from Full Metal Jacket to Jarhead, The Wall effectively bottles the modern wartime experience in this dusty, windswept chamber piece, acknowledging the faceless enemy of post-9/11 conflict and the never-ending cycle of the military industrial complex.

Operation Red Sea review: Dante Lam actioner a hellish vision of war

Screenwriter Dwain Worrell occasionally steers the conversations between Isaac and his attacker into some shaky territory, such as debating the merits of Edgar Allan Poe or introducing a sadistic game element reminiscent of the Saw franchise. These loftier ambitions to raise the film into allegorical territory are chinks in the wall of its simple yet robust cat-and-mouse premise.

Liman has proved himself equally comfortable directing indies and blockbusters, and here he makes his US$3 million feature feel far grander, thanks to a great sense of place. It is no small feat to create an unbearable sense of tension and claustrophobia in an endless expanse of windswept desert. The Wall, however, does so brilliantly, in the process recalling similarly compact thrillers like Buried or Phone Booth.

The Wall opens on May 31

Want more articles like this? Follow SCMP Film on Facebook