Saturday, August 05, 2017

John Cena Adds a Solid War Psychological Thriller in 'The Wall' to His Filmography

The Wall is a war psychological thriller that follows two U.S. Army soldiers – a sniper (John Cena) and his spotter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – who are sent to investigate a pipeline construction site located in the Iraqi desert.  After spending 22 hours on overwatch, they deem the area clear and proceed to leave their hidden position.  However, this proves to be a grave miscalculation when an enemy sniper named Juba (voiced by Laith Nakli) attacks them.  The sniper, Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews, is critically shot down in the open, while the spotter, Sergeant Allen Isaac, is wounded but gets behind the cover of a crumbling wall.  Communicating through radio, Juba engages in psychological warfare with Isaac, as the latter desperately searches for the former’s location while enduring the extreme discomfort of his situation.

If you have seen the 2010 film Buried, you will be reminded of it after watching The Wall as there are some similar elements.  Also, like Buried, The Wall is a solid, suspenseful thriller.
In order for contained thrillers involving one setting and a handful characters to work, solid direction and masterful acting are required.   And I think this movie has those things.  The only characters basically shown in this movie are the two American soldiers, and Taylor-Johnson and Cena’s performances are good enough to enable their characters to keep the limited storytelling mostly engaging.  Laith Nakli’s voice is the only thing he has present in the feature-length sequence, but Juba manages to be somewhat well-realized as his villainous characterization compellingly seeps through the radio.  As for the direction, the intensity and desperation of the film’s premise is conveyed with impressive steadiness and believability.

Lastly, I want to mention that I’m glad John Cena is able to slowly build his filmography and continues to show promise as an actor.  I’ve gained more appreciation to him as a WWE Superstar in the past years, and now, I’m rooting for the success of his inevitable transition to become a full-time Hollywood star like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  He should do more comedies or action comedies more though before he decides to do another serious action or thriller like The Wall.
The Wall isn’t really going to end up being one of this year’s best films.  But for what it was going for, I say that it’s a filmmaking triumph, and does result to some worthwhile watching.

No comments: