I’m conflicted. I really really really really liked this movie. Except for the ending. But I have to recognize that the ending was bold, out of the norm, inventive, and very “not Hollywood.” If I had to compare it to another ending, I would compare it to the little seen 2010 film Buried starring Ryan Reynolds. I know people that were absolutely pissed off by the ending. I thought the ending made sense. Here, it made sense too, but I guess I was more reluctant to like it because it involves our military and I cared more about the characters here behind a wall way more than I did Ryan Reynolds in a box. People in the military are going to hate the ending of this film. In fact, I walked out of the theater with a vet that absolutely was so pissed off at the ending his face was red. So yeah, if you are military, you might want to cut the film off before the ending arrives.
I’m not going to spoil the ending here and I’m not going to talk about it anymore, so let’s talk about what made this film a little awesome. The plot and performances mainly. Basically if you had to compare this film to others, it’s Phone Booth meets (insert war film here). A U.S. Sniper (John Cena) and his spotter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are on a mission responding to a report that contractors were killed while building a pipeline in Iraq. When they get there, they are trapped by an Iraqi sniper, wanting to talk and play games. All they have is this one wall for protection, radio shot out by the sniper, and have no idea where the sniper is.
My past review I commented on how The Dinner was way too long, that it should’ve been a quick 90 minute little tension bot boiler, not two hour. Well the run time of this film was what made it great. It is a quick 90 minutes, and makes the film tight and in control. Within those 90 minutes, are two fantastic performances, both from wrestler (the next best one since Dwayne Johnson) John Cena and Kick Ass’s Aaron-Taylor Johnson. Especiall Johnson, who has given us a one two punch with his performances in this and his award winner performance in Nocturnal Animals. 50% of this film is relied on their performances and they both give 110% of themselves into this flick. You can feel their desperation, their panic, their worries; it reaches out of the screen and onto you, hoping that they will make it out of there alive.
The Kiefer Sutherland sniper part is voice by Laith Nakli, and although he does not even compare to Kiefer Sutherland’s tremendous scary voice in Phone Booth, the trick that his character has up his sleeve is not only smart and brilliant, but diabolical. For 90 minutes I was on the edge of my seat. I love a good sniper film, and this is the best since Phone Booth, Jarhead and Enemy at the Gates.
Unfortunately there is not much more to say about this film without getting into heavy spoilers and ruining all the tricks this movie has up it’s sleeve. If any people in the military read my review and see this movie, I would love to know your thoughts on it, particularly the strategy and inventiveness behind it. Also, I would like to know your anger with the ending. This movie would be a masterpiece if the ending didn’t upset me so much. But maybe that was the whole point of it, to grab at my heartstrings? If so, good job, but I’m still a little mad at you. This movie is borderline masterpiece with just a dash of frustration, but 100% recommendable in seeing this at a point in your life.