The Wall

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Wall Movie Poster Image
Strong language in bloody but very good war movie.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 81 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

The characters persevere under a tense and hopeless situation, showing bravery, ingenuity, and initiative. Some derogatory behavior toward homosexuals.


Tons of war violence. Guns and shooting, with bloody, gory wounds and spurting blood. Digging-out-bullet sequence. Dead bodies. Constant tension. Helicopter crash.


Some innuendo.


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.


Skittles candy wrapper shown several times; a character eats Skittles.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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).

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHonest R. February 3, 2018

Horrible terrorist propaganda

One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. Makes our soldiers out to be stupid invaders, but the terrorist is a smart “freedom fighter”. HA!
Freedom fighters don... Continue reading
Adult Written byGavin S. August 10, 2017


This movie is totally pro terrorism. A horrible ending that makes me seriously disappointed in my fellow U.S citizens that wrote/created this movie. If you are... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAJlivin October 7, 2019

Good but not a family movie

This movie is very inspiring to young troops. But apart from some bad language it is an amazing movie
Teen, 13 years old Written byurmomisnotaguy June 1, 2019


I'm really disappointed to see all the negative adult reviews on this movie. I can't believe that people won't see this movie for what it really... Continue reading

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"?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action and drama

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate