Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle Zack Snyder Defends 'Man Of Steel' Finale, Ben Affleck Reveals Bruce Wayne Knew People Who Died In That Battle New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ New Book Contends Eric Stoltz Was “Difficult” & The Cast Wasn’t Shocked He Was Replaced On ‘Back To The Future’ Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer Watch: Scott Lang Wants To Call The Avengers In New International 'Ant-Man' Trailer The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Worst Films Of 2015 So Far Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' Zack Snyder Reveals The Easter Egg Idea He Pitched Christopher Nolan And David Goyer For 'Man Of Steel' New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet New Images Of Bruce Wayne, Lex Luthor, More In 'Batman v. Superman,' Ben Affleck Compares Batman To Hamlet Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Paul Thomas Anderson To Write And Possibly Direct Warner Bros' ‘Pinocchio’ For Robert Downey Jr. Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Watch: First Trailer For Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Shailene Woodley & Nicolas Cage Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke Review: ‘Terminator: Genisys’ Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney & Jason Clarke 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" 'Thor: The Dark World' Director Alan Taylor Says His Marvel Experience Was "Particularly Wrenching" Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Watch: Anna Paquin Is Rescued In Clip From 'X-Men: Days of Future Past - The Rogue Cut' Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Kevin Feige Says 'Spider-Man 2' Is "One Of The Best Superhero Movies Ever," Talks John Hughes Influence On New Spidey Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Watch: Live Your Ultimate Fantasy With The First NSFW Trailer For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ Review & Recap: ‘True Detective’ Season 2, Episode 2, ‘Night Finds You’ The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The Punisher Will Reportedly Appear As The Villain In ‘Daredevil’ Season 2 The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best TV Shows Of The 2014/2015 Season The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season

TIFF Review: Low Energy 'Wasteland' A Forgettable Brit Crime Flick

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist September 17, 2012 at 10:01AM

Every six months or so it seems the British film industry cranks out another modestly budgeted crime flick. Usually identified by a cast of recognizable but not quite famous faces, a desaturated color scheme, working class setting and familiar plot machinations, these are comfort food for genre fans that provide a distraction for a couple of hours and little else more. However, every now and then a film breaks out of the mould, offers up a higher standard of filmmaking verve and storytelling inspiration to become something that stretches beyond its genre trappings. "Wasteland" is not one of those movies.
2
Wasteland

Every six months or so it seems the British film industry cranks out another modestly budgeted crime flick. Usually identified by a cast of recognizable but not quite famous faces, a desaturated color scheme, working class setting and familiar plot machinations, these are comfort food for genre fans that provide a distraction for a couple of hours and little else more. However, every now and then a film breaks out of the mould, offers up a higher standard of filmmaking verve and storytelling inspiration to become something that stretches beyond its genre trappings. "Wasteland" is not one of those movies.

Starring Luke Treadaway ("Attack The Block," "Clash Of The Titans") and Timothy Spall (for most folks, a Hey-Its-That-Guy from numerous movies) and written and directed by Rowan Athale making his feature debut, the set-up doesn't get much simpler (and sort of absurd) than this. The film is told through flashback as a beaten and bloody Harvey Miller (Treadaway) sits in a police interrogation room being interviewed by Detective Inspector West (Spall). Arrested for breaking into a workingmen's club, Harvey starts his story six weeks back when he was released from prison, and how he reunited with this three best mates with dreams of -- get this -- opening a coffee shop in Amsterdam. Of course, they'll have dodge some people from their past, but they're mapping out one big heist that could change their fortunes forever.

Wasteland

The problem with "Wasteland" is that it never gets going. The big finale of the movie is watching the heist unfold and seeing how Harry and his pals get away with it, but it takes nearly half the movie before they even start plotting it. So before that, we get a lot of mostly unnecessary backstory involving Harry and his girlfriend Nicola (Vanessa Kirby), a clash with a local bruiser who has it in for him and various other little threads concerning his friends who are in on the job with him. But we've seen variations on all these relationships time and again in numerous, similar movies so instead of being a steady build to a satisfying payoff, "Wasteland" instead spins its wheels, clumsily positioning everyone involved for the second half of the movie.

And as for that big heist? It's...okay. Athale does the old trick of showing the audience how it seems to have gone down first, and then goes around a second time to reveal how it really happened. But for all the waiting, the big job just isn't all that satisfying. Hoping to push the stakes and twists a bit higher, viewers also wait to see how Harry gets himself off the hook at the police station. But the fake outs are mild, the con game never more than tepidly amusing and the whole thing unfurls with such a lack of urgency, that combined with a rather uninspired goal, "Wasteland" is not so much a slow burn as a no burn. 

Wasteland

While the movie itself may not ever spark, the cast do what they can. Treadaway at least makes a compelling enough lead to carry viewers through the film's many soggy patches, but one wonders why you hire Spall to put him in a supporting role that keeps him in a single room for the entire movie. Lethargic and not particularly invigorating or fresh, you can skip "Wasteland" and wait for the next Brit crime flick that will be following before long. [C]

This article is related to: TIFF, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates