Release Date: June 20, 2014
Director: David Michod
Writer: Joel Edgerton, David Michod
Cast: Guy Pearce, Chan Kien, Tek Kong Lim, Tawanda Manyimo, Scoot McNairy, David Field, Scott Perry, Robert Pattinson, Richard Green, Ben Armer, Ethan Hanslow, Gillian Jones, Jamie Fallon, Frank C. Sun, Samuel F. Lee.
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 102 minutes
Production Company: Porchlight Films, Lava Bear Films, Blue-Tongue Films, Roadshow Films
Genre: Crime, Drama
Language: English, Chinese
Country: Australia, USA
It can be a breath of fresh air at times to go in and experience a feature knowing very little about it other than its title. You have absolutely no expectations on the journey you’re about to embark on. That decision could also come back to haunt you, having no idea what you just witnessed. I’m still on the fence about what’s the better route to take, but leaning towards the former. There are so many factors that go into making a great film ranging from cast, plot, acting, and setting. In my opinion, all of those elements are meaningless if you don’t have a compelling story and in this case there isn’t one. I took a mental note of Robert Pattison’s performance in Remember Me (2010), and in this film he blew me away gaining my total respect. He definitely proved he can do more than Twilight films, and Guy Pierce did a stand up job as well. They both are surrounded by a great cast, setting, and plot, but overall it’s a disappointment, because there is no story to wrap up it all up.
The main character Eric (Pearce) brings new meaning to the “less is more,” saying. His performance is an interesting one bringing so much life to his character with no words, but only blank stares, and drifting sighs. As the title cards suggested (after I came back home to watch the trailers), he’s a man with nothing to lose. That’s what makes the film interesting from the jump. When unforeseen events take place he puts himself right in the middle, with which a normal civilian wouldn’t do. That alone is what grabs you and doesn’t let go. You’re thrown into the middle of a situation (actually by multiple characters) not knowing how you got there but waiting for answers. From just a few of his actions you can tell the guy is crazy, and just about everyone else in the film is as well. I mean every single character in this film was a nut case. That’s another element that makes it all interesting. When a new scene comes around, you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into. This is also the case with the character Rey (Pattison). He’s the polar opposite of Eric but just as crazy, so you’re drawn in waiting to see exactly what motivates these fine people.
Taking a break from the characters I want to dive into the direction by David Michod. He’s so calculating with his shots it’s breathtaking. He can make the image of a car rolling at 1mph just with the placement of the camera create tension and suspense. His decision to make a character stumble while walking, twitch their face, or any other gesture is so notable and pulls you in even more into the world you were already attached to. He makes you care about the characters as I stated above with the moral code each one lives by. He sets up scenes that are like flipping a coin not knowing how they would end, even with the best analysts in the world taking a smack at it. The soundtrack he provided is memorable too, and may even have you tapping your feet (all but one song that made my ears nearly bleed from the screaming of a lady on a microphone). In short, he did an excellent job.
The plot starts off already in the action, and you’re curious to know how it commenced. As each scene developed, there’s a new addition thrown in to spice things up, and you’re starting to salivate at the thought of your first bite of a 4 course meal the film is preparing. So many questions rise up creating complexity from its simple introduction of characters and set up. Unfortunately this is now where the story takes a huge dive head first into a pool with no water. As the film starts, you’re already in the middle of some gun battle or robbery/heist. You don’t know because you’re never told. Eric has no care in the world and is obsessed with retrieving a personal item of his that may set him free, but you never find out why. The great additions that stir up the plot are never explained as well. They make things interesting but at the end of the day you want to know their origins. Then even more interesting characters pop up and give their twisted view on life and the bubble they live, but are shot dead before we get to know them as well. It’s very frustrating and knocks the film down from the high praises it was on its way to receive.
Films like these are always a surprise because it doesn’t spoon feed you the dull formula that main audiences are used to consuming. It’s a different take in a rural location and setting that can possibly deliver a multitude of surprises. I talked about elements earlier and the many that go into a film. The Rover has plenty with a great cast, solid performances, great direction, but unfortunately the film doesn’t come back around full circle to tie all the loose ends together. In short it’s a good film with no beginning or ending and leaves many unanswered questions. For that reason alone, it drops down from a higher rating it was sure to deliver.