HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

Convoluted British Heist Flick ‘Wasteland’ Tests Your Patience

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 5 (1 vote)
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – I’m not sure there’s ever been a heist film in which the heist is discussed, debated, and argued about more than “Wasteland,” opening in Chicago this Friday, August 2, 2013. We know from the beginning, with its “Usual Suspects” narrative trick of an arrested man telling a cop how he got there, that things went wrong. And then we get to hear about the plan for things to go wrong over and over and over again. Writer/director Rowan Athale thinks he has made a crime caper a la “Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels” but the constant spinning of wheels drains the piece of its energy until a final act gets so convoluted that the whole thing falls apart.

Harvey (Luke Treadaway) was framed by a notorious crime lord named Steven Roper (Neil Maskell). As he explains it to D.I. West (Timothy Spall), successful crime bosses have to throw the cops a bone every once in a while to keep them off the scent of the real criminals. And so, not thinking about the potential for revenge, Roper plants drugs in Harvey’s apartment and gets him sent away. When Harvey gets out, he reunites with his beautiful girl Nicola (Vanessa Kirby) and tells his friends about a plan to go straight. He only needs the cash to join in on a business in Amsterdam. Where’s the best place to get the cash? Why not the guy who framed him?

Photo credit: Oscilloscope

Harvey figures out that Roper leaves most of his cash at a club in an office safe. Time to plan a heist with best buds Dempsey (energetic comic relief Iwan Rheon), Dodd (Matthew Lewis, Neville Longbottom from the “Harry Potter” movies), and Charlie (Gerard Kearns). The four guys figure out a way to break into the club and steal the money. But how did Harvey end up in an interrogation room with bruises and gashes all over his face and how did Roper end up in the hospital? Things must have gone very wrong, right?

“Wasteland” starts with a decent energy, reminiscent of Guy Ritchie’s crime films in the way it introduces characters on the edge willing to do stupid things in the name of love and revenge. Sadly, that energy just seeps out of the film as it drags its feet in the middle act, spinning wheels to get to the big reveal of what went down on that rainy night. We get scene after scene of the guys arguing as to whether or not they should do something this dangerous, slo-mo montages of their emotional deliberations (is Harvey really telling the detective about this…”and then I thought and thought and thought…”), and enough delay of the final act that it loses its power.

Ritchie’s films, despite their flaws, feel dense with character and setting details. “Wasteland” is just too thin. We don’t care about the characters enough to linger with them as a build-up to the final act. And it might not be as hard to take if that wham-bang finale wasn’t so straight-up ludicrous. I won’t spoil anything here but the plot holes in Harvey’s plan are big enough to make Danny Ocean cry foul. When you think back on it, “Wasteland” just doesn’t make a lot of sense. Combine narrative flaws with too little character development and what do we have? Just a waste.

“Wasteland” stars Luke Treadaway, Vanessa Kirby, Iwan Rheon, Matthew Lewis, Gerard Kearns, and Timothy Spall. It was written and directed by Rowan Athale. It will be released at Facets on August 2, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
38 - = seven
Solve this math question and enter the solution with digits. E.g. for "two plus four = ?" enter "6".

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Cher Show, The

    CHICAGO – Cherilyn Sarkisian… yes, that is her birth name… is the redoubtable Cher, and it’s perfect timing for her to have a jukebox musical tribute. “The Cher Show,” covering three eras/songs of the six-decade career of Cher, opens for a Chicago preview before its Broadway run, from June 12th through July 25th, 2018.

  • ThroatPunch

    CHICAGO – The provocative title of Sharon Krome’s new stage play, “ThroatPunch,” does not contain that particular fight technique. But it does have standout performances by the three person cast, as they make their way in Chicago, circa 1983, amid their emerging twentysomething punk rock attitude. The World Premiere of the show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through June 3rd, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions