War is Hell By “The Wall”
By Skip Sheffield
“The Wall” hits like a ton of bricks in a literal sense. Two American GIs are trapped behind a wall in Iraq, targeted by an unseen sniper. The tension does not let up for one hour, 21 minutes, which is the length of the movie. Director Doug Liman keeps us on the edge of our seats as sharpshooter Allen “Eyes” Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Staff Sgt. Shane Matthews (former WWE star John Cena) attempt to take out an expert Iraqi sniper in a middle of nowhere desolate desert. The men are huddled behind an ancient, crumbling wall, nervously bantering buddy-buddy small talk. On the other side are several bombed out vehicles. Sgt. Matthews, in a macho maneuver, makes a run to the other side of the wall. He is soon answered by gunfire. One of the bullets makes contact. Immediately a bad situation is made worse.
There is a third, unseen character named Juba (Laith Nakli). He taunts the men in almost perfect English by pretending he is part of a rescue force. In reality he is the hidden Iraqi sniper.
For those of us who opposed our intervention in Iraq over “weapons of mass destruction” that never existed, “The Wall” confirms our worst suspicions.
“The Wall” was written by Dwain Worrell, who wrote the 2015 cop drama “Operator.” Worrell was born in Barbados, but he has a brother who served in the US Army, who provided him some insights. Nicholas Irving, a former US Ranger sniper, served as tech advisor.
Why two soldiers are stranded in the middle of a desert with no support makes no sense. The Iraq War itself makes no sense. If you are looking for mood uplift, this is no movie for you. For the rest of us it is a grim reminder that war is Hell, no matter where it is or for what purpose.