scruffy lads are nothing like Raffles the gentleman thief, but their intended
target is the real knuckle-dragger. A
recently released ex-con and his mates put a working class spin on the movie
caper in Rowan Athale’s crackerjack Wasteland
opens this Friday in New York.
the film starts in media res with our protagonist in a police interrogation
room, it would seem the caper is not very successful. However, there will be several twists to the
tale the black-and-blue Harvey tells Detective Inspector West. Six weeks ago, he was released on
parole. Framed on drug charges by Steve
Roper, poor Harvey was a bone the local gang lord threw to the coppers to
distract them from his own narcotics business.
None too happy about it, Harvey plans to use information he overheard in
prison to get some payback and seed money for a new life abroad.
Roper has no connections to neighborhood social club, making the basement
office safe the ideal place to stash his illicit cash. Of course, Harvey cannot
take it alone. He will recruit three
friends: Dempsey the fast talker, Dodd the hard drinking goon, and Charlie the
momma’s boy welder. He makes a point of
not involving his ex-girl friend Nicola, but he still rekindles their
relationship in spite of his better judgment.
Timothy Spall only appears as DI West in the wrap-around narrative device, his rumpled
gravitas lends the film instant credibility right from the start. In fact, Athale has assembled quite an
accomplished cast of recognizable but not necessarily famous faces. Despite his unprepossessing screen presence,
Luke Treadaway is suitably world weary as Harvey, whereas Iwan Rheon’s Dempsey is
a slyly roguish standout (even if some of his dialogue is hard for American viewers
to catch without subtitles). Again
projecting a sense of banal menace, Kill List’s Neil Maskell makes another beefy but intense villain as Roper,
looking quite at home in this gritty milieu.
As caper movies go, Wasteland is decidedly moody, but it is never slack. For a first time helmer, Athale ushers in
each reversal and revelation with an assured touch. Frankly, it turns into an out-and-out crowd-pleaser, while staying true to its working class roots. Thoroughly satisfying, Wasteland is highly recommended for caper fans and viewers of Ken
Loach’s more accessible films (like Angels’ Share). It opens this Friday (7/26)
in New York at the Cinema Village.
Labels: British Cinema, Caper movies, Timothy Spall