Tuesday, July 30, 2013



The British heist movie "Wasteland" aspires to the level of good Guy Ritchie - say, a crowd-pleaser such as "RocknRolla." It's well below that standard - it would need more humor and a much tighter plot - but a passable evening's entertainment, preferably on the tube.
Harvey (Luke Treadway) was framed on a possession charge by his then-employer Steven Roper, a nasty local club owner who sidelines in the drug trade (Neil Maskell). Out now, Harvey vows vengeance, sharing with his mates the inside info (so to speak) he learned in stir about the 50,000-plus pounds Roper keeps in a guarded-like-a-fortress safe.

Harvey's telling all this to a detective inspector played by the veteran Timothy Spall, who does a nice job of imbuing a familiar type with unexpected empathy and amenability. Harvey won't rat out his mates, including Charlie (Gerard Kearns), who's reluctant to attempt the heist, and Dempsey (Iwan Rheon), who's in as soon as he hears about it and ends up keeping even Harvey from bailing out. Both Kearns and Rheon give good performances, again bringing shading to some stock characters. And Treadway's a credible lead, even in the romantic subplot that adds nothing to the picture.

The story doesn't stand up to day-after scrutiny. The big reveal that writer-director Rowan Athale builds up to feels a bit too scripted. It calls upon Harvey to demonstrate brains and long-range planning we haven't seen from him throughout the movie. You may also call bollocks on Spall's DI being left with a huge choice to make, and/or on the choice he does make. And even though Athale adverts to the problem, I still have no idea how Harvey makes a particular violent act appear to be one of self-defense to a large group of onlookers. In truth, a recommendation is probably overly generous for "Wasteland," but it's watchable and never boring, and eventually I actually picked up most of what they were saying.


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