Doug Liman has emerged as an action aficionado of sorts. The long-time filmmaker broke onto the scene in the mid-90s as the visionary behind the indie classic, Swingers. But since then, Liman has pivoted to a more uptempo directing approach with successes such as The Bourne Identity and The Edge of Tomorrow. Yet, even as a heralded filmmaker within the action genre, Liman's latest cat & mouse sniper thriller, The Wall, becomes hampered by its claustrophobic setting.
Set during 2007 in Iraq, after President Bush had declared victory, a pair of soldiers (Aaron-Taylor Johnson and John Cena) are investigating the murder scene of American contractors in the middle eastern country. Consequently, the two soldiers fall under the gunfire of an undetectable and skillful sniper. Left with nothing but a flimsily built rock wall to shelter him from the sniper's accuracy, Isaac (Johnson) finds himself immersed in a battle of wits and warfare with the opposing shooter.
Filmed predominantly in the same setting, The Wall tries desperately to avoid an aura of monotony with a mere 85-minute running time. Unfortunately, a severed amount of screen time still can't stop Liman's effort from standing as a tiresome affair. An insufficient and bland story overshadows an initially intriguing psychological opening. However, as the minutes begin to mount and the film's third act ultimately takes shape, a decent final sequence isn't nearly enough to salvage an utter lack of connection between viewer and characters. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, fresh off a Golden Globe win for his supporting role in Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals, delivers a committed performance, but even his unique talents fail to withstand a rather unimaginative screenplay from Dwain Worrell. The Wall is more gimmicky than substantive, something that clearly doesn't suit Doug Liman's proven abilities as a filmmaker.