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Wasteland

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There are twists aplenty but few surprises in this warm-hearted but routine heist drama from first-time writer-director Rowan Athale. After serving time for crimes he didn't commit, 22-year-old Harvey (Luke Treadaway, terrific) returns to his Yorkshire, England, hometown intent on revenge against Roper (Neil Maskell), the neighborhood drug lord who set him up. A born leader, Harvey easily persuades his three best friends (Iwan Rheon, Gerard Kearns, and Matthew Lewis) to join him in an elaborate heist of Roper’s safe. Harvey is actually telling his tale in flashback, post-heist, to a detective (Timothy Spall), and these brief interrogation scenes are a highlight. If it takes Athale a bit too long to get to the robbery itself, that's because he can't get enough of the loving camaraderie that binds Harvey and his friends. They grew up together, know each other's secrets and weak points, and are even willing, they discover, to die for one another. Athale has a flair for guy-pal banter; here, the talk is funny and profane, silly and profound, often in the same breath. Harvey and his gang are charmers, although it must be said that their thick accents are sometimes indecipherable. (One secretly longs for subtitles.)

Chuck Wilson

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