“The Rover” recalls other similar small films such as “Last Ride” and “Heatstroke,” films you’ve probably never heard of, but for good reason. Like “The Rover,” they too involve a lot of wandering through a desert landscape with little to no story to support it, leading to the kind of film you’re not likely going to remember five minutes after it’s over. This time around, we get a tale set in the Australian Outback ten years after a Western economic collapse. Eric (Guy Pearce) is going about his business when his car is suddenly stolen by three crooks who have just abandoned their getaway car. Eric tries to chase them down with their old car, but a confrontation with them leaves him knocked out cold. When he awakens, he begins his search, during which he finds a brother, Rey (Robert Pattinson), of one of the criminals, who was left for dead after their last heist. Given that Rey knows exactly where the thieves are, the two team up to settle their own personal scores.
For a film like “The Rover,” there really isn’t much to be said, mainly because there simply isn’t a whole lot going on here. Eric wants his car back and Rey wants to know why he was left behind, with the latter being something we find out very early on, leaving the audience nothing to do but sit back and wait until these two finally have their confrontation with the thieves. As for character development, there’s not much. We find out a little about Eric’s past, but unfortunately it doesn’t have much of anything to do with the story, so all you can do is question why writer/director David Michod stuck it in there. Then there’s the setting of the Australian Outback, ten years after the Western economic collapse. Why this location, and why these circumstances if it wasn’t going to be utilized for the story? As you can see, this is the kind of film that builds up a lot of questions, but not the kind that stimulate intriguing discussion about it.
The cast here is a pair of interesting choices. Guy Pearce has played his share of rough characters, and he does his best with what he has, as does Pattinson, but it’s hardly their fault that they don’t get much out of it. The screenplay gives these two nothing to work with, so it’s unlikely that even the best actors in the industry today would have been able to make such a story work. It’s simply a bland, forgettable, and stretched-out tale that will have you wishing for something to happen to help develop the story. Instead, all it has to offer are two dull, undeveloped characters that go on a little revenge trip that could have been told in just a few minutes, but which Michod incorrectly thought should be an entire feature. In the end, to our dismay, it can’t hide the fact that it’s just as empty as the desert landscape it’s set in.
“The Rover” comes to Blu-ray in a 2.40:1, 1080p High Definition transfer of excellent quality. The picture is sharp and clear at all times, which allows you to take in the scenic beauty of the locations in which the film was shot. Likewise, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is loud and lucid throughout the entire presentation, giving you all elements of the soundtrack in outstanding quality. Overall, both areas have been given great treatment, leaving you with the best possible experience the film can offer.
Something Elemental: Making The Rover: A 45-minute making-of featurette that features a lot of behind the scenes footage, but which doesn’t go into much depth, despite having interviews with the cast and crew. It’s worth flipping through for some of the on-set footage, but I wouldn’t recommend watching the whole thing.
“The Rover” is a film that is severely lacking in substance, one that fails to take advantage of its setting and plot elements. The lead performances from Pearce and Pattinson are adequate, but they are let down by the weak and hollow screenplay by writer/director David Michod. This is a story that had potential, but Michod’s unwillingness to develop any of it only leads it down the path to becoming another small, forgotten film that no one’s likely to take any notice of.
Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting tomorrow.
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