Film Review: The Rover
With Greenpeace bosses being asked to resign for taking regular plane journeys between Amsterdam and Luxembourg, conflicts being waged in every corner of the planet, and Nestlé desperately trying to buy up the water resources of developing nations, you could be forgiven for thinking the world right now is as bad as it will get. Well, director David Michod begs to differ.
One look at the trailers for The Rover is enough proof of that. The Australian film-maker, who was responsible for the impressive Animal Kingdom, has made that most typically Aussie type of movie in his latest effort, which shows us a devastated planet where society has all but completely crumbled, everyone is very unhappy, dead or dying of starvation, and the whole situation looks utterly bleak.
Although there’s probably not a huge amount more to add – this is a post-apocalyptic film that’s designed to warn us that if we continue our greedy ways everything is doomed – we have some more space on the page to fill, and intend to do just that. Set ten years after a global economic catastrophe of such epic proportions that there’s no hope of ever turning things around, we follow one hardened loner as he tries to track down the horrible guys who have taken his one remaining possession, a clapped-out banger of a car.
En route to his goal, this desperate man runs into one of the thieves’ brother, decides to take him along for the ride, and in doing so begins to form an unlikely and decidedly uneasy bond with the sibling. What follows is a pursuit movie across the kind of badlands that make the landscape in Mad Max and The Road look like well-irrigated cottage gardens, as we watch the pair try to catch up with those who wronged at least one of them. Whether the irony that all that matters to the protagonist is a vehicle, the likes of which has led to the overall decline of mankind (the pursuit of oil and material wealth), is intended probably depends on your opinion, but we like to think it is.
To say The Rover looks stunning would be rather an odd use of the phrase, but there’s no denying that aesthetically and atmospherically this is definitely up there with the genre’s finest. Bleak territories are revealed through a sharp lens and intelligent cinematography. Meanwhile, Michod proves again that he knows how to make a good film. The addition of Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson as the two main stars also helps, with both on fine form here, making for a movie we can’t help but recommend. And not just because there’s a good chance fare like this will be seen as premonitory, if our race doesn’t begin to sort its head out and stop clamouring for more and more of whatever takes our fancy. So consider this something of a warning.