There is probably a sizable percentage of people who hate Robert Pattinson for no good reason. The Twilight star became an intense object of affection and lust for those team Edward, and for anyone who witnessed that obsessive fandom (especially those who saw it up close), it can be off-putting even if it bears little on the person’s talents. Considering that Pattinson starred in five of the biggest movies of the last decade, he’s made some of the smartest career moves of anyone who has been suddenly thrust into superstardom: He’s now making an effort to work with talented auteurs in roles that only trade on his fame in the sense that he helps get the movies financed. Not only has he made two movies with David Cronenberg, he also starred in the David Michod film The Rover. And as for the latter, he’s excellent in it. My review of the Blu-ray of The Rover follows after the jump.
As the film opens Eric (Guy Pearce) is getting a drink at the local watering hole. It’s been ten years since “the collapse” (which makes this a variant on the post-apocalypse movies to which the Aussies are famous), and it’s a seemingly lawless time where the only law enforcement is a military that mostly just cover their own asses. Three men (headed up by the ubiquitous Scoot McNairy as Henry) are heading away from a crime scene and they accidentally crash their car, which leads them to steal Eric’s. Eric wants his car back, so he gets the criminal’s car running and chases after them. After he asks for the car back to no avail, they knock him unconscious.
Rey (Pattinson) is Henry’s brother, and it appears that he and the other criminals got in a scuffle with the military. Rey’s been gut shot, but is able to steal a Humvee. Rey eventually crosses paths with Eric – who went looking for a gun to get revenge – when he spots his brother’s car. Eric then takes Rey in and gets him to a doctor, but only for the express purpose of getting his car back. Eventually Rey reveals where his brother (and Eric’s car) might be.
Though not a post-apocalypse film exactly, the film is drawing from both The Road Warrior, and from the Spaghetti Western films that served as an influence for Miller’s masterpiece. Which means that Pearce’s character is generally a man of few words, and is driven by a code and haunted by a past that slowly reveals itself. As such, the film has a lot of great details, but it also feels a little like an exercise. There are certain films that establish early on that they can only be so great, and this is the sort of film that you can tell after thirty or forty minutes it’s going to be a three star movie. But there’s nothing wrong with that, and the film works on the level it sets out to.
What elevates it are the performances, and Pearce and Pattinson make a great onscreen duo. The former Edward is playing McNairy’s brother, which means that both are doing a Southern accent. It seems there was some immigration to Australia after the collapse, which is how this is explained, and Rey is playing a character that seems modeled on Of Mice and Men’s Lennie, albeit slightly smarter, though just as dangerous. He seems as loyal as a dog, though he’s not the reason for the film’s title. But it’s Pattinon’s character’s unpredictability, and how he and Pearce play off each other as an odd couple, that keeps the film engaging. For those who may have dismissed him as a pretty boy, Pattinson has been proving himself over and over since his time in Twilight, and the way he’s going it seems – more than any of the Harry Potter stars – he’ll be working and possibly heading towards awards attention before too long. And if he keeps making these sorts of career decisions, it will be earned.
Lionsgate presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, and also provide a digital copy. The transfer is solid, the color palette of the film is limited as it’s a very dusty movie, so the film doesn’t pop on home video, but it’s otherwise excellent. Extras are limited to one featurette “Something Elemental: Making The Rover” (45 min.), but it’s a good one, going in depth into how the film came about and the casting process. Though some may be disappointed there isn’t more, I thought this was the perfect additional feature.