Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Rover

Not mentioned in the review, but does it say worse things about me or a movie when I notice fairly early on, as it's happening, that characters could probably have made life a whole lot easier for themselves by shooting the unconscious guy who has been chasing them in the head rather than just leaving him next to a fully-fueled vehicle? It strikes me that the movie should probably make more of a thing about how the guys who have been set up to be the antagonists don't do this, but it doesn't do much of that.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to Australian readers telling me that I'm full of crap with my theory of why Australia seems to do post-apocalypse well.

The Rover

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 2 June 2014 Regal Fenway #11 (first-run, DCP)

I went into The Rover already thinking about how Australia seems to churn out more than its share of post-apocalyptic movies (post-"collapse" in this case), at least among the ones worth remembering. It's probably at least partially convenience - deserts and isolated, dusty towns are not in short supply - but I also wonder if it's about being originally settled by penal colonists and worried that something ugly in the national DNA might emerge once imposed order vanishes. It's probably a foolishly presumptive idea to pursuit from the other side of the Pacific, but it's also the idea at the heart of all the best movies in the genre, as well as this one's best moment.

It takes a bit of time to get to that moment, though. Things start with a man (Guy Pearce) stopping in a roadside bar for a beer, not even noticing when a truck carrying fleeing criminals Caleb (Tawanda Manyimo), Henry (Scoot McNairy), and Archie (David Field) crashes nearby. He notices when they steal his car to get away, though, and gets their truck free in order to pursue them. That doesn't work out, but his path soon crosses with Rey (Robert Pattinson), Henry's brother whom the crew left for dead.

Writer/director David Michôd (last seen working with Guy Pearce in the fantastic Animal Kingdom) tosses the audience right into things at the start, with Pearce's Eric not saying much and the others filling their story in pretty quickly amid enough noteworthy automotive stunts to give the audience the impression that this is going to be a car movie. That isn't so much the case, but Michôd and his team have started things off with admirably lean, tense action that sets the standard for how confrontations are going to go over the course of the film: It's not all cases of things being over decisively even before the audience realizes that they've gotten serious, but Michôd does make every bit of action he can afford on a fairly tight budget count; there is a point to moments of shocking violence besides cheap sensation, with every one highlighting just how lawless the environment is and what sort of ruthlessness it takes to thrive in it.

Full review at EFC

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