The Rover is a film from Australian director David Michod (Animal Kingdom, writer: Hesher). Ten years after a worldwide collapse of civilization, the Australian outback is a dystopian landscape dominated by crime and poverty. Following a botched robbery, three thieves (Scoot McNairy, David Field, and Tawanda Manyimo) crash their car and decide to steal a new one, which belongs to a man named Eric (Guy Pearce). After a fantastic chase sequence, Eric catches up to the robbers and demands his car back, where he is knocked out and left on the side of the road. All the while, a fourth thief named Rey (Robert Pattinson), left for dead by his partners, escapes the scene of the robbery in a military jeep. The hard, ever-snarling Eric eventually meets Rey and takes the wounded man to a doctor, intending to use him as a guide in locating his stolen car.
The best place to start with this movie is the premise. It is empty, and this leads to a flimsy narrative that doesn’t have a lot to say for itself. The entire film revolves around Guy Pearce trying to get his car back at any cost. His character lacks the room for development (although, Pearce does a good job with what he is given). The script has some moments of clarity, where conversations are engaging and fleshed out. But these moments don’t fix the overall plot of the film.
The real takeaway from The Rover is Robert Pattinson’s performance. He deftly plays the young, simple-minded American southerner. Rey is twitchy and unsure of himself, and Pattinson is never caught over-selling that fact. The final payoff of his character arc is the most redeeming quality of the film’s narrative, but it isn’t enough on its own to redeem the entire movie.
In the end, there isn’t much to be said for The Rover. The flat story is only slightly made up for by the talent of the film’s cast, but even that isn’t enough to make the movie notable. It is ultimately a movie attempting to have novel substance to it, but it ends up being one that has nothing new to say.
When I heard about this movie and read up on David Michod’s career, I was surprised to see that The Rover was coming from the same director who made Animal Kingdom. The dark nihilism of the characters in Animal Kingdom scared the shit out of me. I was perfectly disturbed by that film. So, it came with some disappointment to see the missteps of The Rover. I can only hope that Michod moves in a new direction with his next project.
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen The Rover? If so, what did you think? Was it better than I give it credit for? Let me know in the comments!
–Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)