No this isn’t The Great Wall with ponytailed Matt Damon. Its much better anyways. Doug Liman is quite solid as a filmmaker. The first Bourne film is the best out of the lot, and Edge of Tomorrow was fairly creative and engaging. Here he brings a small budget, a tiny cast, and a single locale. Yet this film brings an enormous amount to the table in terms of tension, sufficient writing, and gripping action that revives around acting for survival.
The film follows two soldiers who watch over a site for pipeline construction. The sergeant is shot down by a hidden Iraqi sniper, while his spotter runs behind a wall after being shot in the leg. The spotter (played by a really good Aaron Taylor-Johnson) must not only try to save himself but also his sergeant while communicating with an extremely dangerous and accurate sniper. The thing about this film is that its minimal in production yet offers so much.
I’m very impressed with ATJ this year. He was the best part of the excellent Nocturnal Animals and is very convincing as Isaac in this film. The film is a really thrilling survival film that specializes in tense moments, substantial character development, and a riveting game of cat and mouse. You never even see the sniper in the film but wow is he a menacing force. The film is short and doesn’t overstay its welcome which really works in its favor. Its also not as predictable as one would think.
I’m most impressed by the fact that a film that I expected absolutely nothing from ended up being worthwhile. It’s not going to win any awards or earn plaudits but it shows the strength of its lead actor and the strength of Liman with such limited use of pieces. Definitely worth a watch and remains fresh enough to avoid being a bland Iraq-American war film.