It was a Saturday night and I was bored therefore trolling through random trailers on Amazon when I came across "Wasteland." Immediately a couple of words stood out: "Usual Suspects", "Oceans 11", "heist movies", "revenge movies" etc.. The cast looked attractive and looked capable of acting. The production looked fine. I love all of these things. How on earth could this go wrong???
Easily apparently. Much like the "Usual Suspects" this movie is being narrated by the lead in a jail interrogation room. And then it flashes back to what he is describing to the police officer. Now in these flash backs, it shows the the lead getting his three friends on board and then the planning and execution of a heist. And yet, you felt like nothing happened.
I'm not sure why--the acting was fine. But it just seemed too shallow given the emphasis on the characters as opposed to plot. It was supposed to be emotional though and had lots of "let's talk about our feelings" scenes but somehow never gave these moments passion. "The Town" managed to show the strength and high stakes of interpersonal dynamics between a heist crew much more effectively than this movie. Even if the director hadn't wanted to go there-he could have gone the "Inside Man" route which doesn't focus on the characters as much but on the action. "Wasteland" spent just a short montage on the getting ready for the heist though, and just a few minutes on the actual heist. And in the "Inside Man" the interrogation scenes only serve to continually ratchet up the tension--where here they serve more as a children's bedtime story hour.
This is basically a movie where nothing happens. Not between the characters and in a plot sense either. And honestly, I had actually figured out the real ending within about 20 minutes into the movie. And then towards the end, when it shows the "big reveal" it spent another 15 minutes hitting you over the head with it despite it being very clear as to how they did it. It has the subtlety and nuances of a three year old child. Which just leaves you with an incredibly flat frustrating very long story. Not that I need explicit sex scenes or graphic violence in all my movies-but I have to think they could have helped punch up the emotional content a bit. Despite being rated R for a beat down and some language--it has almost PG like sensibilities.
In short, movies like this only work if you're on the edge of your seat the whole time--and I decidedly was not.
So much potential. Such a big miss.