Matthew Lickona 3 p.m., March 23
Doug Liman’s small-scale war movie pits two American soldiers (John Cena and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the latter looking like Jake Gyllenhaal and talking like Casey Affleck and acquitting himself admirably) against an Iraqi sniper in the pipelined, post-war wasteland. The sniper has the clear advantage: they don’t know where he is, and their only cover is the crumbling stone wall of a former schoolhouse. But before he blows their brains out, he wants to get inside their heads, so he commandeers their communications and strikes up a conversation. Where are you from? Why are you here? Etc.Taylor-Johnson plays along, hoping to buy the time necessary to rescue his unconscious and bleeding friend, tend to his own wounds, radio for help, and, somehow, locate and engage his adversary — who naturally has plans of his own. Their talk is like the desert wind: rising up and falling still, obscuring and clarifying, eddying and sweeping. Their conflicts are several: training vs. technology, resource vs. rage, and finally, guilt vs. revenge. Liman does good work in making the disembodied voice into a man, and in fitting a dialogue-heavy drama into the framework of an action film where the action is minimal but definitely not minor. 2017.
- Doug Liman on The Wall • May 10, 2017