A dystopian future is a solid foundation of any interesting film. Bleak surroundings and despicable characters comprise these future worlds and their stories explore the very raw and basic instincts of man. Australian export The Rover is no exception and the results are pretty solid. The talented Guy Pearce turns in an intense, fully believable performance here and Robert Pattinson isn’t half bad in an unconventional role. The film can be described as an Aussie crime thriller and while a bit on the depressing side, it’s chock full of entertaining action and very gritty and realistic performances.
Set 10 years after a global economic collapse, The Rover takes place in a desolate part of Australia and focuses on Eric (Guy Pearce), a loner with nothing to lose. He has no family and no possessions, only his car, which gets stolen by a group of criminals after a robbery. Eric then makes it his sole mission to hunt down the men who have taken his vehicle and make them pay dearly. Along the way, he meets Rey (Pattinson), the younger brother of one of the criminals and the only person who can help Eric. Blood, bullets, and fear make up the rest of the film and it’s really quite a ride.
Pearce is brilliant as the loner Eric. He actually has intensity similar to that of Batman. Never smiling and always out for revenge, Eric is an antihero in every sense of the word. His mission is simple and full of ethical issues. How far will he go to get his car back? The answer: really far. Rey joins him in his quest against his will but as most crime dramas go, their relationship has its ups and downs. They are two men who couldn’t be more different, Eric is a hardened vigilante and Rey is young, naïve and innocent. Their chemistry is a puzzling one, but it works.
The vast Australian setting is almost a character all in itself. Its unforgiving terrain and the hot desert can have a very harsh impact on any person who crosses it. With Eric, you can tell right away that this is a man who has seen it all. He’s been to the Outback and he’s seen death. His eyes tell one hell of a story and when these men steal his only possession, all bets are off.
The Rover is writer/director David Michod’s second feature after 2010’s Animal Kingdom and it is a film that that reinforces Michod’s powerful filmmaking abilities. The editing and pacing make the film feel as though it’s in real time. Though a work of fiction, The Rover has all the makings of a potentially true story. All of the actors in the film are excellent and the screenplay is genuine and at times, vulgar – but that only enhances the realness of the film. Guy Pearce is something of an anomaly but when he gives a performance as good as that in The Rover, viewers are in for a real treat. It is also refreshing to see Pattinson in a role where he’s not sucking someone’s blood. The Rover, while not a perfect film, is definitely worth your time.