Netflix UK film review: The Rise (Wasteland)
Chris Bryant | On 21, Sep 2013
Director: Rowan Thale
Cast: Luke Treadaway, Neil Maskell, Matthew Lewis
Watch The Rise online in the UK: Netflix UK / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Google Play
The Rise places itself in dangerous territory. Being a good British thriller with a cast of actors known for bigger work and a few twists and turns along the way, it’s an excellent watch. But the fact that it doesn’t amaze, it doesn’t emotionally cripple and it might not be quite as smart as it thinks means that it runs the risk of being easily forgotten among similar films, of which there are dozens.
In equally dangerous territory is the piece’s protagonist, Harvey (Treadaway – Attack The Block). Six weeks ago, he was released from a prison sentence he did not deserve and now he’s planning to rob dead-eyed violence merchant Stephen Roper (Maskell, channelling his performance in Utopia by terrifying everyone with his thousand-yard stare). For the job, Harvey recruits his best friends: Dempsey, the loyal and fast-talking Iwan Rheon (mirroring his quiet and calculated turns in Misfits and Game of Thrones); the perpetually angry but attached to his home Dodd (Lewis – Harry Potter); and Charlie, a quiet, motivated friend, played by Gerard Kearns (Shameless). Together, the boys set in motion a plan to outsmart, humiliate and get even with Roper.
In the present day, Harvey is explaining this plan to D.I. West (a tough-but-fair Timothy Spall), beaten and bloody. A few clever quips here and there keep him from being an all-round good-guy, but his reserved demeanour and his decision to plot against Roper – as opposed to, say, hit him with a crowbar the moment he’s released – mean that Treadaway’s character remains something of mystery. In fact, this is true of most of the characters. Maskell brings his experience as a murdering lunatic (see Kill List) to give Roper a cold madness, and Rheon’s Dempsey speaks with such speed and vulgarity that it’s difficult not to like him, but everyone else remains firmly in two dimensions.
Despite this, Thale’s thriller does have a Usual Suspects ring to it thanks to the flashback framework, coupled with the impressively uneasy sense that all is not what it seems. Well planned and smoothly executed, the build-up doesn’t quite pay off, but The Rise is quite interesting – if not quite amazing. There is a chance that it will sink in a sea of similar films with better characters, deeper writing and more startling twists but the strong cast and the dark, pressure-cooker writing keep The Rise afloat. It stands its ground as a solid British thriller.
The Rise is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.