Unmissable Gangster Brit Flick

If by chance you read the plot summary prior to this review, and also kept up with the latest British crime flick trends, then please believe me when I say this. Although at first appearance, this may look to be yet another in a long line of dodgy crime yarns from the UK. Wasteland, is in fact the real deal. Being an American, ever since Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels exploded onto the scene in 98, I’ve been catching everything related to the genre, and the locale. In that span of time there have been many brilliant films, but unfortunately there have also been a number of cheap knock off’s made for the singular purpose of making a quick buck (welcome to showbiz), not the case here! First time writer/director Rowan Athale has delivered a fresh, smartly written screenplay, and directed it in a slick, exciting manner. As the summary suggests, this formula has been delivered, in the past, using a variety of techniques. Despite this, Athale has taken his vision, skillfully applied it, combined it with a most capable cast, making for one fun and very engaging film experience.

So as Wasteland begins, it introduces Harvey (Luke Treadaway), in a bloody and bruised state, sitting in police custody, across the table from D.I. West (Timothy Spall). The interrogation by West is just in the beginning stages, where we hear Harvey is just a fews weeks out of prison after serving a year when innocent, and taking the fall for a local dealer, which for all intensive purposes, destroyed his life.

Rowan Athale
Matthew Lewis, Iwan Rheon and Timothy Spall
Release Date
26 July, 2013
Influx Grade: A-

Much worse, he’s now being held on charges of attempted murder of local businessman, Steven Roper, the man responsible for the sinister act that put him in prison in the first place. Before we get to hear much more of the story, the film then rewinds back to when Harvey was first picked up from prison by his best mate Dempsey, (Iwan Rheon). We are shown the brother-like bond he shares with his best mates, and the deep set loyalty they have for one another. The group comes up with an ingenious plan to set the record straight, once and for all. In the meantime Harvey tries to reconnect with his previous girlfriend Nicola, the stunning (Vanessa Kirby) . What unfolds here is a sometimes funny, exciting, suspenseful and a truly engaging story.

This is where I normally would criticize any lows the film may have possessed, such as acting that wasn’t believable or up to par, production values that felt low and cinematography or editing that could have been better, but after just catching it again for a second time, I just cannot find any inferior qualities that this film possesses. Instead, I will commend other elements that had a positive affect, one being the sound department, while much of the film was relatively quiet, in the instances where it was used, it managed to provoke emotion and produce a feeling of connection to the film and it’s characters. Again, much respect due to Rowan Athale, if this was his first outing, you can count me in for any of his future ventures. This is a UK crime drama that should not be missed.

Grade: A-

Review by Jim Davis, special to Influx Magazine

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