The Rover

The Rover photo starrating-2stars.jpgIn post-apocalyptic Australia, a drifter (Guy Pearce) hunts down the three 3 thieves that stole his car. That’s it. That’s the whole plot. The Rover is set “ten years after the collapse.”  At least that’s what the title card tells us. It’s all the information we’re given in the sketchy history of an apparent global economic meltdown in the near future. The end credits inform us that our protagonist is Eric, though I don’t recall anyone ever uttering his name. Eric rarely speaks. Instead he effects his way through the story employing pseudo-macho grumbles and growls designed to intimidate all who stand in the way of the aforementioned car. Eric spends most of the 102 minutes tracking this criminal trio, played by Scoot McNairy, David Field and Tawanda Manyimo. We really don’t see much of them except for in the very beginning and at the very end. In time, Eric is joined in his dreary quest by the mentally challenged brother of McNairy’s character. Played by a mumbling Robert Pattinson, the Twilight star becomes sort of a sidekick. Pattinson is good. Sadly the movie is not.

The Rover has a particular disregard for human life. Director David Michôd’s follow up to his brilliant Animal Kingdom is simplistic and dull where that 2010 crime thriller was layered and complex. The Rover is unrelentingly bleak, depressing, savage. I could go on. Any number of various adjectives don’t do justice to this grim tale about life. This post apocalyptic western has been compared to Mad Max. No way. That film was a tightly edited action packed classic compared to this downbeat, depressing, lethargic mood piece. Occasionally the audience is visually assaulted. The lawless world of The Rover is punctuated by some of the most unpredictable bursts of violence I have ever experienced. I’m talking bloody shots of people at point blank range right in the face.

Director David Michôd has a latent contempt for his audience.  There is no story, only the violent pursuit of one man’s bloodthirsty fixation on his stolen car. His search is occasionally disrupted by gunshots that are disproportionately loud to anything else happening on screen. The camera does not turn away from these bursts of noise but rather it lingers on the atrocities with a disgusting gaze. Why this stupid car is so important to Eric is a question that will nag at you for the duration of the entire movie. To be fair, we are finally given an answer for enduring this slog through a nihilistic wasteland. Unfortunately, it simply doesn’t justify everything we had to endure. The show isn’t a complete waste.  At one point, Robert Pattinson’s character finds himself alone in the car singing along to Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock.” It’s a bright, shining moment of energy that is completely out of step with the rest of this dull flick. And for that reason it’s the best scene in the entire picture.


34 Responses to “The Rover”

  1. I bet you are spot on. It sounds too, well, apocalyptic for me. I want to remain happy and not go down that road. Nice review.

    • Apocalyptic describes so many movies these days. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but this just didn’t have the story to back up all the grim violence.

      P.S. For example, The Road was an apocalyptic drama that was more engaging.

      • Cormac McCarthy’s stories are dry and desparate in general. I know he won the Pulizer for The Road, but I haven’t read it. I haven’t seen the film, either. All errors on my part; I am glad to hear The Road was engaging.

  2. Yeah I’m still trying to decide if I liked the lack of story or thought it let down the whole production. I took away a couple of solid performances and some nice (even if nasty) visuals from Australia. I didn’t mind how bleak it became although it bordered on monotony for even me, and I think I liked this overall quite a bit more than you.

    Good review though! I’m sure mine will be up in the next couple of days.

    • I’ve read your review and I don’t disagree with your understanding of the film, only my reaction to it. You extol the very things I disliked: the depressing view that humanity is miserable.

  3. This was my film of the year. Michod said himself that the story is unimportant. Its all about the characters. Also, the theme of loyalty plays out throughout the entire film. I loved it.

  4. I’m finding that a lot of movies are coming to VOD at the same time as theaters lately. This is one of them. I was planning on watching The Rover, since Robert Pattinson seems to actually have a career ahead of him (he doesn’t even want to do anything but indies, apparently), and of course Guy Pearce is outstanding. Guess it’s not worth watching, though, even at home.

  5. Yup – still disagree.

  6. Excellent review of a problematic film. I’ve seen it and my review will be posted tomorrow night. But I recalling stating that the film almost flat lines, and that it seems almost pointless. I am rating it 2.75 out of five.

  7. Is it mean to say that I hope I disagree completely? Just look at that cool poster dude! I do not want to hate this! I want to love it! Glad that Patterson did a good job though! Shame about the dullness though…urgh I cannot stand dullness!

  8. I don’t really care for gruesome violence and this one sounds so dull and gloomy on top of it. Heh, I’ll probably skip this one.

    • I think I’ve read enough of your reviews to determine that you have made a wise decision. Don’t think this particular film would appeal to you.

  9. It started out interesting, but just got kinda boring. There was not an ounce of life to Guy Pierce’s character. Robert Pattinson was the only highlight of the film. And the ending, come on, that was a dumb reason for the whole situation we just watched. Could have been better. 2 1/2 stars.

  10. Victor De Leon Says:

    I think I will pass on this one. I trust your judgement, Mark and we pretty much see eye to eye on many flicks. Thanks for the review!

  11. Shame the movie isn’t good, although I’m glad to hear Pattinson gives a good performance. Outside of Twilight, I do like him.

  12. My main problem with the movie is the simple and obvious question at the beginning. Why don’t the three criminals give the car back to “Eric” and get their truck back, which would have settled the whole matter? There’s no reason for them not to do this. Michod could have invented a reason, but he never does. He just has the criminals be stubborn and not give Eric his car back when a clear opportunity presents itself. Even if they thought that Eric wouldn’t come after them, there at least could have been a scene where they said that. Plus, how minimally and badly Michod writes Eric, it makes us not want to follow anyone here.

    • Good point. Since Eric manages to start their getaway vehicle and catch up to the criminals, they could’ve just traded cars and went on their merry way. But then we wouldn’t have had this convoluted movie to watch.

  13. The chomping and slurping into the microphone and into my head were the worst part for me. Talk about a latent contempt for my ears in the audience.

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