Wall, The (Blu-ray) (2017)

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Released 8-Nov-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Audio Commentary-Director Doug Liman and actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson
Featurette-A Visual Journey through The Wall (11:09)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind the Scenes Vignettes (9:55)
Trailer-x 3 for other releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2017
Running Time 89:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Doug Liman
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson
John Cena
Laith Nakli

Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     2007; President Bush has declared victory in Iraq but for two American soldiers alone in the Iraqi desert the war is anything but over. Matthews (John Cena), a sniper, and Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), his spotter, lay camouflaged on a hill; below them on the plain contractors building an oil pipeline and their security detail have been ambushed and killed. After watching the site for over 18 hours with no sign of movement the Americans decide that the Iraqi ambushers are no longer in the area and Matthews goes down the hill to investigate. He is shot by a hidden Iraqi sniper and, badly wounded, falls in an exposed position. When Isaac rushes down to help Matthews he is also shot and wounded, but manages to find shelter from the sniper behind a crumbling stone wall. Wounded, in pain and without water, Isaac is trapped behind the wall, facing heat, constantly blowing dust, a disintegrating wall, knowing that Matthews may still be alive but unable to help. Then, just to add psychological spice, Isaac discovers that the Iraqi sniper (Laith Nakli) has tapped into his coms, and he wants to know all about Isaac. In this cat and mouse game of life and death, all the control and all the cards are with the hidden, and very deadly cat.

     The Wall is directed by Doug Liman. He is no stranger to sprawling, expansive multi-character action films with, for example, The Bourne Identity (2002) and Edge of Tomorrow (2014), on his CV; in The Wall, in contrast, there is one location and only two characters, although the wall itself, which disintegrates during the course of the film, is as much a character as the soldiers. But Liman always keeps the film interesting, although not through showy or unusual camera angles. Instead, he shows the various challenges faced by Isaac, bandaging his wound, trying to get the radio to work, looking for a water bottle; Isaac is always busy, the menace of the unseen sniper (and we never see the sniper, he is heard and occasionally we see the POV of his scope) always present. In this way Liman manages the feat of making the wide open desert landscape feel claustrophobic!

     Liman’s talent in his action blockbusters is to allow the human side of the characters to show through the set piece action sequences; Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt where all allowed to shine as people, not just as action cyphers. In The Wall this is taken to an extreme, for this is essentially a one character film; for most of the running time the focus is entirely upon the character of Isaac. Aaron Taylor-Johnson played a soldier in the special effects extravaganza Godzilla (2014); in The Wall he is grimy, injured and very believable, taking us on a journey through pain, fear, resignation and hope, where survival is never guaranteed.

     The Wall provides no background, or context, it is not political and takes no sides and the action never moves away from the area around the wall. There is no music in the film, only the constantly blowing wind, the dust and the trickle of sand, the crash of rocks as the wall gradually crumbles; the soldiers are grimy and dirty for this is not glamorous war but raw pain and terror. The film is a tense, uncompromising character study of a soldier in extreme circumstances who must deal with the hostile environment, identify his enemy, and then work with what he has to defeat him and, maybe, just maybe, come out alive.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Wall is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     Set entirely in the wind blown dusty desert, colours are desaturated with brown the dominant colour of the sand, the stone wall, the uniforms, the blowing dust although there is dull crimson blood. Detail is strong, showing every grime and dirt mark on faces, the dust on uniforms, the detail of the stones in the wall. Depth of field is excellent, the wall often seeming 3D. Some shots have the POV of a sniper’s scope, and are deliberately of lesser contrast but otherwise brightness and contrast are consistent. The sequences in the glow of the setting sun are spectacular!

     There are no artefacts or marks.

     English subtitles for the Hearing Impaired are available.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is English DTS-HD MA 5.1, plus an English audio description utilising a female voice and the English commentary track, both Dolby Digital 2.0.

     Although a war film, The Wall is not heavy on action; instead the audio is a subtle track. There is no music, the sound-stage instead is used for the ever-present wind, some bird sounds and the effects of trickling sand, equipment noise or the crash of rocks as parts of the wall come down. The impact of bullets is followed by the crack of the rifle in the distance. During the helicopter sequence at the end, the rotors are loud and enveloping, the roar supported by the subwoofer. The sound is realistic, and this is also the case with the dialogue. Mostly it is easy to hear, but as Isaac becomes increasingly tired some of his conversations with the sniper become indistinct and mumbled.

     The music over the closing titles was composed by Ryan Williamson.

     There are no lip synchronisation issues.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Start-up Trailers

     On start-up we get trailers for American Assassin, Dunkirk and Logan Lucky which cannot be selected from the menu.

Audio Commentary

     Director Doug Liman and actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson sit and watch the film together. They are not really an engaging pair and there are gaps in the commentary, but they do provide information about Liman’s influences and intentions, the location shoot, breaking down the script and the pacing of the film, shooting 16 mm anamorphic, changes to the film in the editing and changing the end of the film at the last moment. Worth a listen.

Facts from the Front Lines: A Visual Journey through The Wall (11:09)

     This is an unusual and effective featurette, not your usual “making of” with talking heads. Instead it uses on-set stills, film footage and captions on the screen to cover filming in the Mojave Desert, the design and construction of The Wall, the casting, the characters and the look of the film.

Behind the Scenes Vignettes (9:55)

     A more standard behind the scenes with comments by the director Doug Liman, cast Aaron Taylor-Johnson and John Cena, writer Dwain Worrell and military consultant Nicholas Irving. It is split into four short sections covering the difficult conditions on location, the script, casting and sniper school; there is a Play All option. The sections are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Except for Spanish subtitles, this release is the same as the Region A US version of The Wall.

Summary

     Director Doug Liman keeps the action taut and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is excellent and believable in The Wall, a raw, tense, gritty and uncompromising film; in the Iraqi desert war is not glamorous but grimy, bloody, deadly and dusty, with only a slowly disintegrating wall between a wounded soldier and death.

     The video and the audio are very good. The extras are decent.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, November 20, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
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