By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Strong language in bloody but very good war movie.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Depicts the horrors of war. Shows how a horrible secret can change a person's life. Explores the idea of what makes an enemy: Where does an enemy come from? Could enemies be friends under different circumstances?
Positive Role Models
The characters persevere under a tense and hopeless situation, showing bravery, ingenuity, and initiative. Some derogatory behavior toward homosexuals.
Violence & Scariness
Tons of war violence. Guns and shooting, with bloody, gory wounds and spurting blood. Digging-out-bullet sequence. Dead bodies. Constant tension. Helicopter crash.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Almost constant use of "f--k," "f--king," and/or "motherf----r." Also frequent use of "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "damn," "balls," "ass," "d--k," "booty," and middle-finger gestures. The derogatory phrase "Haji," to describe Iraqi people, is used frequently. Some derogatory remarks aimed at homosexuals.
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Products & Purchases
Skittles candy wrapper shown several times; a character eats Skittles.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Wall is a war movie set in Iraq. Although it centers on just two characters (plus the voice of a third) and is set in one location over the course of one day, it has very intense, gory violence, including guns and shooting; bloody, gory wounds (and spurting blood); and attempts to treat wounds by digging bullets out with knives and applying tourniquets. A helicopter crashes, dead bodies are shown, and there's almost constant shouting and tension. Language is extremely strong, with constant uses of "f--k," as well as "s--t," "bitch," and many other words. Some sexual innuendo and derogatory remarks are also heard. The movie -- which is tough, lean, and clever -- raises questions about the horrors of war and what makes someone an enemy (vs. a friend).
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Based on 6 parent reviews
Too much swearing, even for a war movie Do Not Watch!
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Horrible terrorist propaganda
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What's the Story?
In THE WALL, two soldiers -- Army Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews (John Cena) and Sergeant Allan Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) -- have spent the better part of 24 hours watching a scene of destruction, where contractors installing a pipeline have been massacred. Mathews decides that the coast is clear and goes to investigate but is shot by an unseen sniper. Isaac rushes to his side and is himself shot in the knee. He takes refuge behind a crumbling wall, only to find that both his radio antenna and his water bottle have been ruined. He tries to reach help, and a voice responds; but Isaac realizes that it's the voice of the Iraqi sniper, trying to fool him. The sniper, whom Isaac believes is the infamous Juba (voiced by Laith Nakli), tries to keep up a conversation with the American, while Isaac tries to figure a way out of his predicament. Can he locate the sniper and save himself -- and his partner -- before it's too late?
Is It Any Good?
This kind of compact storytelling can be difficult to pull off, but Dwain Worrell's screenplay makes it look easy; this is a tense, tight, bracing film, recalling many "B" movie classics. Worrell's work comes without any flashbacks or anything that takes viewers us away from the immediate action, but it still manages to reveal crucial background details in a convincing way. It also opens up the characters -- including the unseen sniper -- beyond simple archetypes.
Director Doug Liman turns in surprising, no-frills work here, closer to The Bourne Identity than to anything else in his filmography. He does revert to hand-held camerawork from time to time, but he also expertly establishes the entire space so that nothing ever jolts us out of the action. Liman also effectively ramps up the mood with a powerful suggestion of heat and exhaustion. Though The Wall is a good deal bloodier and more aggressive than earlier war films by the likes of Samuel Fuller, Don Siegel, and Anthony Mann, it still deserves comparison to them.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about The Wall's violence. Do you think it effectively depicts what war is like? What's the impact of media violence on kids?
Why do you think the soldiers use derogatory remarks and sexual innuendo?
Does the movie humanize the Iraqi sniper, or is he a one-dimensional bad guy? Is he a stereotype?
What is the movie saying about the nature of war? The definition of "enemy" and "ally"?
- In theaters: May 12, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: August 15, 2017
- Cast: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena, Laith Nakli
- Director: Doug Liman
- Inclusion Information: Middle Eastern/North African actors
- Studios: Amazon Studios, Roadside Attractions
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout and some war violence
- Last updated: August 26, 2022
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