The Rover

OK we get it, you're tough.
Verdict: 
5/10 - There's the kernel of an interesting idea in The Rover, but it's not allowed to grow quickly enough.
Release Date: 
Friday, August 15, 2014
Written by: 

Robert Pattinson takes on the role of Rey in this modern western set in Australia.

5

Moving on from a major Hollywood franchise is always going to be hard so let's make one thing clear - those hoping to see Robert Pattinson in a Twilight-like role will be sorely disappointed if they go to see The Rover.

The film is set "ten years after the collapse" as it states at the beginning, in a kind of post-apocalyptic Australia where violence rules and it's all about the US dollar. Directed by David Michôd, this is a kind of Western, which is heavy on the meaningful stares and moody asides but too self-conscious when it comes to delivering its message.

Guy Pearce stars as hardened loner Eric, while Robert takes on the role of trusting Rey. As The Rover starts, Eric makes a stop at a noisy bar in the middle of the Outback. At the same time, we see three guys arguing in a truck - it's not clear exactly what's happened they've clearly done something they shouldn't have. These two worlds collide as Eric sits glaring ahead while out of his eyeline the truck careers top over tail down the road outside, the accident caused by the men rowing over Rey. It's a compelling scene, especially as it paves the way for the rest of the film.

The men desperately need to get away so, rather than try to fix their truck, they hotwire Eric's car. Perhaps foreshadowing what is to come Eric refuses to be beaten and gets the truck going, beginning what is to be a hot pursuit of the trio to try to reclaim his vehicle. A tense standoff ensues, again adding to the western vibe, but eventually Eric is outdone.

We first meet Rey as he is spitting and gurning on the ground, having been left for dead by his brother (called Henry, played by Scoot McNairy). Eric and Rey form a tense allegiance as they both need to find Henry, although it's Robert who steals the show. Rey is shy and full of tics; he's so nervous it's a struggle for him to get his words out a lot of the time. Why is he in Australia when he has a deep south accent? And what has he done to make him sought by the army?

The film has an interesting premise, but after things boil over in the car crash scene it never really gets going. Part of the problem is Guy's portrayal of Eric - his desire to show he is tough and unsentimental seems one-note. The saving grace here is Robert's Rey - it's a nice touch when the famously insular heartthrob sits alone in a car singing along to a song's "don't hate me 'cos I'm beautiful" lyrics. "Not everything has to be about something," he explains to Eric at one point - unfortunately perhaps a new tagline for the film.

People die in every way possible in this movie, seemingly a take on how little modern society cares about life. But it's the ending which is really interesting, and left us wondering whether more meaningful questions could have been answered throughout.

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