Wednesday, November 22, 2017
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John Cena talks about his indie war drama 'The Wall,' getting work in Hollywood

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JOHN CENA:BEHIND 'THE WALL'

Pro wrestling legend and Land O'Lakes resident John Cena adds an indie dimension to his acting career in The Wall (R ), an Iraq War nightmare in broad daylight.

This isn't the gung-ho war movie Cena's WWE fans might expect. Director Doug Liman crafts a sparse, deadly dilemma of two U.S. soldiers (Cena, Aaron Taylor-Johnson) pinned behind crumbling bricks by sniper bullets and taunts from a disembodied radio voice (Laith Nakli).

The Wall is an 81-minute exercise in tension, with Taylor-Johnson carrying the dramatic load as psyches and lives are blown away. Dwain Worrell's lean, mean "Black List" screenplay could work as well on a creatively designed stage. Liman is just cracking his suspense knuckles between Jason Bourne flicks and the like. And it's a solid B+.

All of which gives Cena his first whiff of independent filmmaking street cred, after starting out with the action flicks expected of athletes. Cena impressively expanded to comedy in Trainwreck, Daddy's Home and Sisters, but The Wall is serious business with Liman and Golden Globe winner Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals) involved.

"Those are two consummate pros," Cena said by phone from Los Angeles. "I compare it to what I do in the WWE. It was like early on in my career when I was able to be put in the ring with some very gifted hall of fame-caliber talent. That's exactly what (The Wall) was like."

His role in The Wall is limited, but Cena is grateful to get it.

"It's not like everything I choose I get," he said. "I get rejected lots of times, just like anybody else trying to work in this town. But there is that lucky occasion when I read something I love and people on the other end say, 'Yes, we'd like you to do this.' "

Cena, 40, still competes at select WWE events between acting gigs and charity events. He has granted the most Make-A-Wish requests ever to ailing children, more than 500 and counting. That alone makes him someone to pull for, as he chases what are so-far modest movie star dreams.

Does Cena see himself in a blockbuster franchise someday like the WWE's Hollywood prototype Dwayne Johnson?

"It's not usually how people think and I can't believe I'm saying it out loud, but I don't necessarily look for that," he said. "I just want to do stuff that I enjoy. It boils down to being really simple: Show up on time and do good work. I always make that a habit."

 

NEW IN THEATERS:

SNATCHED

 

Thank you, Amy Schumer, for talking Academy Award winner Goldie Hawn out of semiretirement to co-star in Snatched (R). Hawn hasn't made a movie since 2002's The Banger Sisters, and nobody should be remembered like that.

Snatched pairs Hawn and Schumer as a mother and daughter vacationing in South America when they're kidnapped. Please don't put them in solitary confinement. These women are forces of comedic nature who should be allowed to collide as often as possible.

 

HISTORY LESSON:SUN HAVEN STUDIOS

 

Film historian Lisa Bradberry traces the short-lived legacy of Sun Haven Studios tonight at the St. Petersburg Museum of History, 335 Second Ave. NE.

The short-lived movie studio was constructed on Weedon Island in 1933, attracting silent movie legend Buster Keaton, whose career was fading as talkies came into vogue. Three movies were produced that year on Weedon Island and other Pinellas County locations before the sun set on Sun Haven.

Bradberry's presentation begins at 7 p.m. with a $5 donation suggested for admission. A cash bar will be provided by Hops & Props.

 

In theaters: our Top 5

 

Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:

1 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Marvel's anti-superhero franchise, with a cast that includes Chris Pratt, above, gets bigger.

2 The Fate of the Furious: It's raining cars, hallelujah, in another lap around the blockbuster track.

3 The Wall: U.S. soldiers in Iraq (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena) pinned down by sniper fire.

4 Colossal: Anne Hathaway is a monster, sort of, in a weirdly lovable movie.

5 The Dinner: Richard Gere and Steve Coogan are in top form as back-biting brothers.

 

UPCOMING RELEASES

 

(Dates subject to change)

May 19: Alien: Covenant; Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

May 26: Baywatch; Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

June 2: Wonder Woman; Transformers: The Last Knight

June 9: Megan Leavey

June 16: Rough Night; All Eyez on Me

June 30: The Beguiled; The House

     
 
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