You never stop thinking about a life you’ve taken.
That’s the price you pay for taking it.
That’s a quote from the new film The Rover. This is a brand new film which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18th, before its limited USA opening on June 13th. It is now in a far wider distribution stateside as both the AMC and Regal movie chains are showing the film.
The setting is Australia’s Outback. The time is somewhere in the not too distant future. Things are quite difficult, and even though it is ten years after The Collapse, an unexplained but likely financial disaster, it is definitely a dystopian place. In short, a place that undergone a cataclysmic decline in society.
In The Rover, we are not told anything. The film begins simply with a man walking into a bar and having a drink. He’s filthy, and decidedly stoic. While he’s drinking, there’s a robbery possibly nearby, and it goes bad. One man is left in the street dead, and another is thought to be dead. And there is a car crash.
So this guy steps out of the bar, and sees his car being driven off. Their vehicle which had the accident is still there. In their vehicle he gives chase. That’s all he does (for most of the film), as he’s just got to get that car back. He’s called Eric, and Guy Pearce has the role. He strong, and a man of a few words.
He’s going to catch up with bad guys, and demand the return of his car. What he gets instead is a rifle butt to the back of his head. He’s knocked out. Exit bad guys.
Then Eric comes upon the thought-to-be-dead but just wounded man – his name is Rey, and Robert Pattinson has the role. He’s young, twitchy, and has enough tics, tremors, trembles and other movements going on all the time to the extent that it is annoying.
It was his own brother that left him to die. Eric thinks that Rey can help him track down the car thieves. But first Rey has to be patched up.
There’s your set up.
Fear The Man Who Has Nothing Left to Lose.
That’s a tagline from the film. If you’re thinking this reminds you of the Mad Max series of films with Mel Gibson you’d be a bit wrong. The thing of this film is that folks look normal. We won’t see any mohawk hair-cuts, multiple body piercings, tons of tats, tons of leather, and their vehicles that looked like they were assembled from derelict parts of other cars, stitched together and now are driving about. Petrol is still available for sale, but you’d have pay for it in US dollars, as apparently the Australian currency is just paper.
The locals out here in the beyond the beyond, with no Thunderdome in sight, are both desperate and hopeless. They’re unafraid of the future, or death – as life is already pretty dreadful.
It seems that these days, armed guards ride the rails aboard freight trains, and there’s a militia or quasi-police force/constabulary out and about, but if you think they’re a deterrent, you’d be wrong. People live by their wits, their courage, and the ability to shoot the other fellow before he shoots you.
Yes, it is a bleak world in The Rover. We get plenty of startling images, and some unusual music. And then there ‘s the man of stone, Eric, and the twitchy dude Rey, following not the yellow brick, and not a trail of bread crumbs, but following Rey’s instinct that tells him that his brother and Eric’s stolen car, are probably headed home.
Okay, see this film if you want a taste of the dystopia that this future Australia has become. See this film, if you want to see brains blown out and spattered against the wall, and nearly a dozen men shot and killed. Yet this film does not wallow in the violence, all of it is quick, sudden, and final. There’s much more of those contemplative looks than there is gun play. Which is not say that guns are not used. They are – but the director likes violence almost as much as he likes close=ups.
What else will you see? Plot holes the size of military Humvees. Many, almost too many instances of illogical choices. I liked the look and feel of the film, but with so many of the most egregious events that defy basic logic, instead of soaring on the wings of a strong, silent, and fearless protagonist, the film nearly flatlines.
Directed by Daniel Michaud who also wrote the screenplay based on a story by Joel Edgerton; yes, that Joel Edgerton, who is more widely known as an actor in Zero Dark Thirty, and The Great Gatsby, the film cannot be rated any higher than two-point seven five, and you might even come away with the thought that the film is almost pointless.
And one more thing. Don’t bring the kids. Check out the trailer: