Review: THE ROVER (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Review: THE ROVER (2014)

Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson's performances are praiseworthy while the minimalist tone is perfectly sombre, but the movie suffers from laboured pace and weak story.

Four years ago, Australian writer-director David Michod earned near-universal acclaims for his 2010 debut feature in the crime drama ANIMAL KINGDOM, which was in turn, an overrated movie that didn't live up to its hype. However, Michod's follow-up in THE ROVER is a minor, if still heavily flawed improvement over his debut.

Set ten years after the collapse in a desolate Australian landscape, THE ROVER begins with a unkempt-looking man named Eric (Guy Pearce) sitting alone at a roadside bar when three men (Scoot McNairy, David Field and Tawanda Manyimo) steal Eric's car and drive away. Apparently the three men had arguments over a botched robbery from somewhere earlier, at which they subsequently end up flipping their getaway truck outside the roadside bar. Eric vows to get back his car at all cost. Then Eric meets one of the robber's wounded brother Rey (Robert Pattinson) and forces him to help track down the three men for his car.
Writer-director David Michod knows a thing or two about setting up a desolate and grim premise that reminds me of Sergio Leone's spaghetti Westerns, George Miller's MAD MAX trilogy and of course, a dash of the Coen brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The minimalist tone that characterized the entire movie is downright eerie and engaging, while the movie is blessed with engrossing production values. Cinematographer Natasha Braier does an excellent job turning the Southern Australia desert landscape into a post-apocalyptic wasteland, while composer Antony Partos brilliantly combined different odd-sounding melodies into a collage of unusually captivating music score that suits the alienated tone of the movie.

Guy Pearce delivers a superbly rousing performance as a man who has nothing to lose and wouldn't mind to get his hands dirty in order to get what he wants. Robert Pattinson is equally impressive as Rey, especially the way he conveys his half-wit character with his twitchy body languages. Another actor worth praising for is Scoot McNairy. Despite only appearing a handful of scenes, he manages to make best use of his limited role with an engaging performance as Rey's sociopathic brother, Henry. 

The early scenes from the chase sequence between Eric and the three men who stole his car to the sudden burst of violence involving Eric wanted to purchase a gun. And another memorable one of course, is the odd but surprisingly well-contrasted scene of Rey sitting inside a car in the middle of the night while sings along over Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock".

The movie begins promisingly during a few early scenes, but Michod's story (at which he co-wrote with actor Joel Edgerton) gradually loses steam with long-winded scenarios that goes nowhere. There are other times where Michod tends to slack off way too much with its deliberate pace it's almost stalls the movie into near standstill.


THE ROVER could have been a genre masterpiece but for all the glaring flaws that crippled the movie here, it remains a fairly intriguing little thriller to watch for.

* This review is written courtesy from GSC Movies press screening *

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