The Rover reminds me a lot of a certain television show: The Walking Dead. Just take away the Zombie Apocalypse and replace it with classic Apocalypse Generic, and the Hobbesian atmosphere of oppression and survival of the strongest will dominate your feelings during the film’s runtime. However, much like The Walking Dead, this movie has its ups and downs, serving to be really intriguing and thought-provoking at key moments, but the quieter moments mostly serve to bore or seem more loftily intelligent than they actually are.
Our story starts out with a group of thieves fleeing a robbery and leaving behind an injured member named Rey, played by a surprisingly decent Robert Pattinson. The gang then crashes their vehicle and steals a car belonging to Eric, a bitterly violent man who isn’t willing to give up his car at any cost, played by Guy Pearce. After losing the gang’s trail, Eric begins to track down the thieves and eventually finds Rey in desperate need of medical attention. Realizing that Rey is his only chance of tracking down his car, Eric takes the injured man with him, and the two begin a journey to hunt down the thieves.
The enjoyment of this film mainly relies on the sympathy one feels for the main characters. Eric is a stoic protagonist with a past that he is less than willing to talk about. He’s ruthless, but not bloodthirsty. He only wants back what is his, and when the reasons for hunting down this specific car become clear in the final scene of the film, it is a brutally chilling revelation. Rey, on the other hand, is a slow-witted man trying to come to grips with being betrayed by his brother, one of the gang members who left him behind to die. Rey struggles with the fact that the one person he’d relied on his entire life for love and companionship would leave him for dead, and the young man’s journey toward self-reliance is both hopeful and heartbreaking.
And yet, for every good character moment, there’s another that seems pointlessly drawn out. There are perhaps one or two too many driving montage scenes where nothing really happens except some bizarre orchestration; I understand that much of the time spent between Eric and Rey is silently driving, but I don’t really see the need to show that. Furthermore, Rey gets some scenes to himself that don’t really do much to further the plot or his character development, and really only seem to be there to ensure that Pattinson gets as much screen time as Pearce. This has the consequence of drawing out an already subdued and thoughtful film into a boring and plodding one.
I feel that I can recommend The Rover for its good moments, for by the time the climax rolls around those moments tend to overshadow any bad ones. This is a solid work with some solid performances and a solid story. It has its pacing issues and its mild pretentions, but overall, I think it’s worth seeing. This was a flop at the box office, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it make its money back through DVD purchases. Check out The Rover when you get the chance.
Any post-apocalyptic films strike your fancy? And please, don’t everyone jump up and say Mad Max. Leave your thoughts in the comments below.