11 September 1999 | SnacksForAll
I'm sorry to use such a vague word as "lame" to describe THE WALL, but that's truly what it is. Lame. The acting is decent, but this film is such a wasted effort that it is probably not even worth a rental.
It's as if no one put any effort into the stories of this immensely-flawed Vietnam flick. The tales spun in the Showtime War "film" are either full of characters and storylines that no one cares about, or are just downright silly.
For instance, one of the stories, titled "The Pencil Holder" (such a weak, laughable and uninteresting name is a bad sign from the start), is about a young boy, living with his father -- a high-ranking Army Colonel (Edward James Olmos) -- in Vietnam (was this sort of thing REALLY allowed? I doubt it). The kid likes to run around and collect Army unit patches so he can add them to his giant collection. He seeks attention from his stoney father, and even goes so far as to make him a dull pencil-holder out of wood. The boy's only parent criticizes his son's effort, in a wasted attempt at drama (which is what "THE WALL" is full of). One day, the young lad runs into a seriousley-wounded black soldier, and notices a patch on his shoulder -- one that is not in his collection. He asks the dying man for it, but instead of a simple answer, the wounded trooper grabs hold of him -- tightly -- and talks to him as if he was his own son. What ensues is a boring turn of events that will have the viewer asking, "Who approved this story?" I myself was asking, "Hey fellas, it's called EFFORT. Look it up."
On the technical side of things, THE WALL also falls short. In one story about a young black man who carries a tradition of wartime bravery, the main character finds himself alone in the "jungles" of Vietnam. To make matters worse, he is being stalked by a detachment of Viet Cong. While a DECENT story, the jungle he runs through doesn't look like "Jungle" at all -- it is obviously just a stretch of forest somewhere in Northern California; we can tell by the trees that AREN'T indigenious to Southeast Asia. How shameful.....this is the same thing that John Wayne's THE GREEN BERETS is guilty of.
As mentioned before, THE WALL attempts, not-so-desperately, to display deep, compelling drama....and misses the Bull's Eye by miles. The other "story," probably the most boring, is about....well, it isn't really about anything. The only shred of plot here, if you can call it that, is about a brilliant guitar player in Vietnam, who is noticed by a lazy Sergeant. Now THE WALL, in general, is SO unmemorable that I have no idea why this two-dimensional guitar player was so important to the Sergeant, but for some reason, he was. The ending is uninspired and weak; just a complete waste of time. This tale TRIES to be dramatic in many places, but you wouldn't notice because most likely you were trying to fight off sleep (or welcome it).
Folks, I could go on and on, but in the end, THE WALL is nothing but an example of a horribly wasted few million dollars. It is very disappointing that this pay-TV movie was such a failure, because it could have been a chance for the writers to tell some compelling yarns about the Vietnam conflict -- but obviously they didn't take that chance.
If you want to see a good made-for-TV pay channel War Flick, rent WHEN TRUMPETS FADE, and avoid this piece of rubbish like the plague.