The Rover

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The Rover

It’s “Ten Years After the Collapse” and the Australian outback is looking pretty shabby. Actually, it’s looking pretty much like what you’d expect: while for overseas viewers no doubt this particular barren countryside (it was filmed in the northern part of South Australia) looks suitably hostile and desolate, for Australians – the occasionally hanging corpse or army patrol aside – it’s just another day in paradise.
Our hero Eric (Guy Pearce) has just pulled into a local bar for a drink when a gang of armed robbers crashes their car outside; having no other options, they steal his car and drive off. Eric promptly gets their truck going, chases them down, demands his car back, at which point they knock him out and leave him by the side of the road. He’s not one to give up that easily though. After a brief investigation (which at one point has an old lady asking him his name, so he goes across the road, tries to buy a gun, shoots dead the gun salesman when he doesn’t have enough money, then goes back to the old lady and points the gun at her rather than just say his name) he finds Rey (Robert Pattinson), wounded brother of one of the robbers left behind at the crime scene to die. Eric thinks Rey can lead him to them, and his car; in the process, a whole lot of people are going to end up dead.
Desolate landscapes and lots of staring from Pearce aside there’s not really a whole lot going on with this film – it’s basically a more brooding and thoughtful Mad Max 2, only there wasn’t really much to think about with that film once you got past the car chases (which this film doesn’t have). There’s the occasional portentous speech from Eric, and Rey’s man-child act is certainly impressive acting-wise when you consider Pattinson’s other roles, but this feels a lot like 50 minutes worth of material stretched out to twice that length. Plus – and this may be intentional – it’s hard to figure out whether the film is cheering on Eric as he cuts a murderous path across the desolate landscape for his own unknowable (until the final scene) reasons or whether we’re meant to realise that in just about every violent encounter Eric is the one who starts killing.
In any other setting, he’d be a clear-cut monster: in this somewhat generic wasteland, it just seems like what a man’s gotta do.
Written by Anthony Morris