Release Date: 20th September 2013

Director: Rowan Athale

Cast: Luke Treadaway, Iwan Rheon, Matthew Lewis, Gerard Kearns, Neil Maskell, Vanessa Kirby and Timothy Spall

Writer: Rowan Athale

Trailer: THE RISE



One thought on “THE RISE


    This is so nearly a really good film. But the dividing line between being really good and really bad is so dangerously thin, and THE RISE teeters almost imperceptibly, before falling headlong down into the oblivion of the really bad. If there is one moment, one shot which encapsulates this, it is the bit with the welding iron. It’s not that I’m picking on a weak moment and saying it’s typical of all the rest – this is not the case – but the bit with the welding iron / blowtorch thing just shows the film for what it really is. And what might that be? Well, it turns out that THE RISE is facile and cocky and thinks it’s clever but ends up deeply irritating and I really ought to start at the beginning. (Even though the film doesn’t.)

    In a blatant rip-off / homage of / to THE USUAL SUSPECTS we see a policeman (Timothy Spall doing restrained) as he interviews a rather badly beaten up Luke Treadaway (not too badly beaten up of course, but one eye has had a good going over) who spins a yarn of dubious veracity. The tale he tells is of urban decay and despair, of lives going to waste on the mean streets of Leeds; it is a tale of squandered hopes, and of a humanity which is lazy and self-serving. Or at least that’s what we’re meant to believe (I think). But this is not a tale of modern-day misery, it is not a parable on the hopelessness of youth, no. It just turns out to be a self-congratulatory crime caper with some cheeky chappies beating the bully.

    Poor Treadaway has been put away for a crime he did not commit. And now he wants vengeance. Foolishly he wants vengeance against villainous Neil Maskell, this week sporting a northern accent (considerably more successfully than his American accent in PAINTBALL). Maskell is one of those moderate sized Mr Bigs that the police don’t seem to want to bother with. He’s a drug dealer with a security business, and one of his clients is The Rise WMC. So, obviously Treadaway and his pals hatch a plan to get back at him by stealing his money (which is in the basement of the club for reasons we need not bother going into) with the intention of running off to Holland in order to open a café. Honestly.

    It’s well cast. Yet again Luke Treadaway is our young lead, and he’s a lot better here than in GET LUCKY (at least he seems to be awake in this film). After leaving jail for the crime he did not commit, he gets his old gang of mates back together, and begins to turn them into master-criminals. Iwan Rheon comes across as a slightly thicker version of Jack O’Connell. He is meant to be thoroughly annoying, and succeeds. I liked Matthew Francis as the thick one (well, the most obviously thick one). Gerard Kearns makes up the numbers, but isn’t a patch on his performance in Shameless. Worst of all, rising stage star Vanessa Kirby (particularly good in As You Like It as the West Yorkshire Playhouse and good also in the National’s Edward II even though the director decided to have her play Queen Isabella as if she was Kate Moss) is all but wasted as the girlfriend non-character. Timothy Spall gives his character just the right degree: he doesn’t steal the film or overpower it, but nor does he treat it as a bit of fun or an easy job. In that respect he is both the best actor here, and the least appropriate.

    THE RISE really likes itself. It comes across as a film which thinks it’s brighter and cleverer than anything else you’ve seen. It really does end up as being quite an unpleasant companion. It’s almost as if Luke Treadaway is directly addressing the audience and saying ‘look we did this, and it was great, and we’re brilliant, and look how clever we are’ and you just want to punch him in the other eye.

    The pity is that THE RISE could have been a more interesting film if it had concentrated on the characters and the realities of the setting. Instead it uses those just as a backdrop for a not terribly interesting caper, with more than a little wish-fulfilment in it. It looks like it’s going to be quite an ambitious yet low-key state of the nation thing, but just lazily bustles off into its own world of improbable criminal masterplans (and if anybody can explain to me what the crossbow had to do with anything I’d be greatly obliged).

    At one point the film almost seems to be drawing to a bleak close. Timothy Spall has given a damning assessment of the situation and Luke Treadaway seems to be sad. But then the coda begins! And we find that Spall has completely misread the situation and Treadaway goes into puppy-like overdrive and the film piles improbability onto unlikelihood and it begins to resemble an episode of Hustle or something like that. ‘What happened to the dingy Leeds film?’ I asked as all this was happening. The film’s reply came back ‘That was all but a ruse. Really this is a clever-clever heist movie, albeit one that makes the rules up as it goes along. Forget the savagery of real life, forget the unemployment and the general hopelessness of all that, this is a film where a bunch of youngster can pull together and make their dreams come true. Even if that dream is to open a coffee shop in Holland using stolen drug money.

    So, yes, THE RISE is a well made film. But it thinks it’s better than that and keeps telling you that it’s better than that. So, yes, it’s just a boastful bore of a movie; some nice ideas are there, and some of it works well, but I was happy to see the back of it.

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