The Rover mixes the dusty dramas of westerns within a futuristic tale. Whilst having more than a whiff of Mad Max-inspired theatrics, it marks its own place in the genre. Showing off the vast outback in its deadly glory, The Rover utilises what nature brings to its full effect.
Ten years after a worldwide economic collapse, Australia has become a money mecca. Trading in American dollars, its populace does anything for a buck. When thieves steal his prized car, lonely drifter Eric (Guy Pearce) seeks vengeance. When kidnapping one of the gang who stole it, Rey (Robert Pattinson), Eric uses his hostage to his advantage. Tearing the outback asunder in his quest, the duo’s lives become increasingly endangered by those crossing their path.
The Rover is a violent drama with a theme of desperation. Each character wants something and will do anything to obtain it. How their desperate natures fuel their determination makes them more dangerous. Haunted by their pasts, Eric and Rey have much in common. Sifting what they can out of life, their bond makes them a strange duo. Using their relationship as a basis for its rugged road-movie-motif, The Rover succeeds in becoming a gripping character-driven tale.
Whilst a little drawn-out and leaving certain aspects frustratingly unexplained, Director David Michod uses The Rover’s expansive setting well. He ensures the landscape perfectly matches the tension everyone feels as they struggle for survival. The desolate terrain mirrors the weary resolve they endure. The Flinders Ranges has never looked so good on film with the international cast aiding in creating the rugged world in which they live.
A generally fine local production, The Rover showcases the locales to stark effect. The versatility of Australia’s scenery continues apace with its backdrop sure to be used in many more productions for decades to come.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 7