The Rover is David Michôd’s follow-up to Animal Kingdom, which centered around a Melbourne crime clan. This one is set in a world 10 years after the collapse of society, where the law is what you want it to be and life is cheap. Eric (Guy Pearce with a bushy beard) is a hardened loner who travels from one desolate town to the next via the deserted roads of the outback. When a gang of thieves steal his car after a botched robbery, Eric is hell-bent on getting his only possession back. Along the way he forms an unlikely alliance with the wounded Rey (Robert Pattinson), one of the thieves’ brother who got left behind. Forcing Rey to help him track the gang, Eric will go to any lengths necessary to get back his car.
You don’t really get to know what motivates Eric to go through all this shit for a car, but you sure get a lot of intense scenes while Michôd keeps you guessing. There is some brutal violence here, a lot intense staring and people following one another through dusty landscapes. Does that remind you of a certain genre? Yeah, you could call The Rover a mechanize western, but it’s a road movie as well and it tries to tell a lot of big things about courage and manliness and stuff like that.
Unfortunately Michôd doesn’t manage to live up to what is a promising opening act and lost me somewhere along the way. And by the time the final twist rolls around, you’ll probably find yourself not really caring anymore. It’s a shame really, especially because the movie looks great and both Pearce and Pattinson deliver.