Blu-ray Review Drama

'The Wall' Blu-ray Review: A war thriller deconstructed to its bare basics

August 15, 2017Ben MK

With essentially only two actors and a single location, The Wall is the kind of high-concept piece of moviemaking that could either go very wrong or very right. Fortunately, thanks to a compelling performance from Aaron Taylor-Johnson and some clever scripting, director Doug Liman's nail-biter, which unfolds amid the waning days of the Iraq War, manages to generate just enough action and drama to keep viewers from tuning out.

A story of two American soldiers whose mission takes an unforeseen and deadly turn, The Wall stars Taylor-Johnson as Isaac, a US Army sharpshooter, and wrestler-turned-actor John Cena as Matthews, his sergeant. The year is 2007, and despite the war having officially come to a close, there are still those who don't consider the conflict to be at an end. Isaac and Matthews discover this the hard way, when, while answering a distress call at the site of an oil pipeline in the middle of the Iraqi desert, they encounter more than they bargained for.

The script by Dwain Worrell (Netflix's Iron Fist) makes the most of the bare bones premise. The movie begins with Isaac and Matthews surveying a scene of multiple civilian casualties from a safe distance, but it's not long before they themselves are thrust into the thick of danger, ambushed by an unseen and highly-trained enemy sniper (Laith Nakli). Matthews is wounded, and Isaac finds himself pinned behind a crumbling brick wall, and over the course of the rest of the film, he and the sniper engage in a game of psychological warfare over two-way radio.

Clocking in at a hair under 90 minutes, the result is just long enough to be considered a feature film, yet just short enough for audiences not to grow excessively weary of its central conceit. Factor in a conclusion that amounts to a war-themed equivalent of a twist, horror ending, and The Wall's final moments of shock and awe are all but guaranteed to leave viewers' with their mouths agape, even if the rest of the movie is somewhat forgettable.

Beige, beige and more beige. The Wall's sun-scorched, desert setting doesn't afford the film much opportunity for color variation. However, at least this gritty, 1080p image doesn't skimp on the detail, with ample picture information to be found in everything from the sand and sweat caked on the actors' faces, to the tumbleweeds and the loosely assembled bricks that comprise the titular wall. Otherwise, the movie's dialogue-driven sound design — delivered via a game DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix — is surprisingly low-key, with the echoes of rifle fire and the ricocheting of bullets taking a backseat to rustling winds, frantic panting and radio static.

Elevation Pictures' two-disc Blu-ray combo pack includes an iTunes digital copy and a DVD; however, there are no Blu-ray extras.

The Wall is available from Elevation Pictures as of August 15th, 2017.The Blu-ray features English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and is presented with English SDH subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 28 Mins.

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