Rowan Athale’s debut “The Rise” (also know as “Wasteland”) is a solid production, with typical, British stylistics. It’s not anything particularly groundbreaking – on the contrary, it’s directed in a “cautious” manner – none of the characters is too intense and “off the hook”, the plot pretends to provide plot twist one after another etc. All in all, “The Rise” is an easily forgettable film.
Harvey (Luke Treadaway) has just left the prison, but he’s on the wrong way again and ended up at the police station, interrogated by DI West (Timothy Spall). As the man might be charged with a series of serious crimes, he piece by piece reveals the truth to the officer.
Rowan Athale doses the pace lightly, slowly revealing the fragments of the puzzle to provide the audience with detective-work fun. On the first glance, the story Harvey tells sounds out of the blue, but the plot seems to be the most entertaining part of the film. It’s a bit crooked and a bit naive, but at the same time surprisingly convenient to follow. “The Rise” reminisces a lot of various noir and thriller movies – from Guy Ritchie’s films in terms of complex storyline to “Ocean’s Eleven” kind of stylistics’ vibe. Even though the analogies are not obvious, harsh copying, they lead to huge inconsistency in an overall effect, as it seems the director lacks his own style. Athale faced hard decisions on what he actually wanted to direct – “The Rise” is sometimes obnoxiously nostalgic just to jump into a “buddy movie” concept in a split of a second. And as far as it goes towards the pure -fun-action flick, it’s more than bearable. When Athale stuffs his film with unconvincing drama (Harvey’s relationship especially), it destroys the effect.
There are also huge disparities among the acting performances. Iwan Rheon’s character is probably the most eye-catching and authentic, although it requires a lot of lingustic skill to understand his lines (that Britihis accent…). Neil Maskell plays a blockhead dealer and delivers his role correctly, but it’s a misfire in comparison with his performance in TV series “Utopia”, where he also played a skillful, but rather featherbrained killer. Trouble starts with Luke Treadaway, whose appearance does not suit the role he plays. A good-looking, well-dressed guy, who plays a totally broke, desperate, seeking for vengeance almost-vigilante – that doesn’t go well. No matter how hard Treadaway tries, it looks like he jumped in from another movie set.
Athale’s film is not anything particularly innovative in terms of editing as well. It’s dynamic, but the director struggles to “press out” as much art as he can. As an effect, we get some Dolan-like shots from time to time in an action film, which also seems rather unrealistic. Just as there is chaos in other parts of the film, it occures also in the soundtrack. There are really great ideas (like the club’s performer, whom we can hear during a fantastic scene in the hallway), but when the climax hits – it turns into something “Mission Impossbile”-like. Eh.
I have to say I felt dissapointed by “The Rise”. It struck me how insecure the director felt about his movie. He tried to smuggle some artistic feeling in it, but it turned out rather too chaotic and uncertain. Nevertheless, assuming this is Athale’s debut film, one might expect something much deeper, less soothened and more flamboyant next time. At least, that’s what I’m hoping for.
UMP Grade: 25.5/50
(Cinematography: 6, Plot: 6.5, Acting: 5, Soundtrack: 4, Quaintness: 4)