The Rover

“Fusing a number of quasi-apocalyptic influences into a hybrid work with a pungent character of its own, The Rover suggests something like a Cormac McCarthy vision of Australia halfway between today and The Road Warrior era. David Michod’s follow-up to his internationally successful debut, Animal Kingdom, is equally murderous but more pared down to basics, as desperate men enact a survival-of-the-meanest scenario in an economically gutted world reduced to Old West outlaw behavior. This is an intense and bloody thriller, with forbidding, lifeless landscapes, populated almost entirely by bloodied, grizzled, sweaty men with guns enacting eternal violent rituals in pursuit of vengeance.

“It’s a time “10 years after the collapse,” when, from the evidence, the Australian economy has gone south and locals are reduced to scavengers. Ruffians, many of them foreign, can’t find work and so have turned to crime; no authority is in place to keep order, and people who might once have been warm and welcoming have turned wary.

“While taciturn loner Eric (Guy Pearce) makes a pit stop, three desperate characters ditch their pickup truck and steal Eric’s sedan. Jumping into the pickup, an incensed Eric gives chase. Any distractions are soon kicked to the side of the road by the appearance of the badly wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson), one of the thieves' younger brother, who was left behind after a gun battle. Frazzled and fried, Rey speaks in a halting, fractured manner that suggests he might not be quite all there. He and Eric, men near the end of their respective ropes, head further into the outback to settle some scores with mutual nemeses.

“It’s a journey that writer-director Michod uses to explore a multitude of extremes — of desperation, soullessness, viciousness and environmental hostility. It can fairly be said that the film all but wallows in the squalor of a world in which every human being is viewed with automatic suspicion and where even a smidgen of openness or kindness will not only be perceived as weakness but will be taken advantage of.

“Pattinson delivers a performance that, despite the character’s own limitations, becomes more interesting as the film moves along. But always commanding attention at the film’s center is Pearce, who gives Eric all the cold-hearted remorselessness of a classic Western or film noir antihero who refuses to die before exacting vengeance.” - Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter


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