I’ve been looking forward to this movie ever since it was first announced. With ‘The Rover’, David Michod proves that he’s a certified up-and-comer after the already classic (in my opinion) ‘Animal Kingdom’, one of the best crime movies I’ve ever seen. Similarly to how Animal Kingdom took an original spin on family crime drama, (not unlike Goodfellas in many ways) what he does in a post-apocalyptic Australia is equally as impressive. The Rover is a tense and riveting modern western, that I hope is just the start of a great career for director David Michod. It’s also one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
The Rover follows an unnamed protagonist (although imdb says his name is Eric) played by Guy Pearce. When his car is stolen by a group of bandits after a shootout, he’s left in pursuit of his stolen car. Along for the ride is one of the bandits brothers, Ray (played by Robert Pattinson) after he’s left for dead in the shootout. It’s a pretty straight-forward movie, that follows the two as one is out for revenge, and the other for answers to why he was left behind. It identifies most with the plot of an old western, but the setting is in Australia “10 years after the collapse”, as it states at the beginning of the movie. The Rover never once lets up the tension, from beginning to end. Just when you think the protagonists will get a respite from the harsh reality of this new ‘wild west’, something goes wrong, again and again. Without spoiling the ending, I’ll just say the climax is one of the most intense scenes in any movie I’ve seen in recent memory.
One of the many things I love about The Rover, is how patient and quite it is. It reminded me a lot of the movies done by Jeff Nichols (Mud, Take Shelter). One second, there’s a great monologue by Guy Pearce, and the next, things blow up and the body count soars. In that same way, we learn about characters through actions, not expository dialogue. I hope these two directors keep that trend going, as it’s one of their most effective writing/directing traits, and one that I think many directors today should take note of. The acting in this movie was also top notch. I’d expect nothing less of Guy Pearce, who’s great in everything, but Robert Pattinson really surprised me. Playing a character with a thick southern accent, and bordering on mental retardation, it’s about as far from Edward Cullen as he can go, and I commend him for it.
So to wrap up my thoughts on The Rover, I loved it. It’s not perfect, as there are some really odd tonal choices near the end (if you see it, you’ll definitely know what I’m referring to) but the good parts absolutely outweigh the bad. David Michod is definitely a name to look out for in the future. If you haven’t seen ‘Animal Kingdom’, hunt that one down and check it out. I can’t wait to see what this guy does next.