THE ROVER (2014) Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson, Scoot McNairy, David Field, Anthony Hayes, Gillian Jones. Directed by David Michôd
It's been 10 years since "the collapse" and Australia has become a dystopian society where anarchic individuals roam the outback and the American dollar has become the currency of choice. Like the Mad Max and Road Warrior films, gas is a precious commodity and violence runs rampant, but the similarities stop there. There are no gangs in customized vehicles roaming the countryside and apart from the crucified bodies strewn across the landscape, it looks pretty desolate.
Director David Michôd's follow up to his critically acclaimed 2010 film Animal Kingdom opens full throttle in the sun scorched outback as a group of thieves on the run after a botched robbery attempt, crash their truck outside of a bar. The three men, led by Henry (Scoot McNairy), abandon the truck and steal a car that belongs to Eric (Guy Pearce) who is inside having a drink. He exists the dive just in time to see his car speeding off and quickly jumps in the thieves truck, manages to start it, and takes off in pursuit of his vehicle. He finally catches up with the criminals and after a brief encounter Eric is left unconscious on the side of the road. When he awakes, Eric jumps back in the truck to search for the three men.
His quest leads him to a town filled with oddball characters and Henry's younger brother, the mentally challenged Rey (Robert Pattinson) whose been shot and left behind by the thieves. Eric takes Rey hostage and after getting him medical attention, Rey agrees to lead Eric to the gang's hideout. During their journey together the backstory of these two is somewhat revealed in their conversations and a run in with the local military changes the dynamic of their relationship.
Pearce gets to use his Australian accent during the film while Pattinson plays an American and speaks with a slow southern drawl. Pearce, being one of the best and underrated actors out there, does a solid job and manages to convey his feelings with little or no words, but it's Robert Pattinson's performance that impressed me, it's daring and as far away from Twilight as you can get. There is a standout scene with Pattinson sitting in a car singing along to Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock" right before the film's climax. Also I have to mention Antony Parto's ambient score, the perfect accompaniment to the harsh barren landscape.
(3 1/2 stars)
*The Rover opens Friday in Houston at AMC First Colony, AMC Katy Mills, and Edwards Grand Palace. In Austin catch the film at the Violet Crown Cinema and Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline.
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