The Rover – reviews of brutal, dazzling Guy Pearce thriller

Aug 15, 2014

New feature from Animal Kingdom director David Michôd features a 'magnificent' central performance

What you need to know

David Michod's film The Rover has opened in UK cinemas. Set in a brutal, post-apocalyptic version of the Australian outback - inviting inevitable comparisons to the Mad Max movies - it stars Guy Pearce as a man who will stop at nothing to retrieve his stolen car.

The gritty, violent film is director Michod's second feature, a follow-up to his much-admired 2010 debut Animal Kingdom, a gangland thriller set in Melbourne.

Pearce has unlikely support from Robert Pattinson, the British star of the teen heart-throb Twilight vampire movies, apparently keen to avoid typecasting.

What the critics like

It's a "compelling tale driven by the magnetic Pearce", says NME. Set in a "brooding landscape" it makes you "wonder how far you'd go in a quest for survival". And don't be put off by the presence of Twilight star Robert Pattinson who "puts in a transformative shift" because "this one definitely isn't for the Twi-hards".

Metro finds The Rover to be "an absorbing film with bags of atmosphere and shock value". We've seen similar visions of a post-apocalyptic future before, of course, but Michod "gives it a fresh spin with plenty of food for thought about society, humanity and the consequences of desperation".

Guy Pearce is "magnificent", says The Guardian's Henry Barnes, praising an "intense, sensitive performance". The film has a "terrific start" says Peter Bradshaw in the same paper, and Michod manages to create "a good deal of ambient menace" and delivers "brain-frazzling heat and directionless despair". 

What they don't like

Although, Pearce "salvages" the film The Rover is ultimately a "shaky" movie, says Barnes. "Brutal and unsatisfying", the film is "Mad Max without the zaniness".

The Daily Telegraph's Tim Robey is disappointed by this follow-up to the director's highly-praised debut. While it has "integrity" it lacks precision and, more importantly is "a dirge" which fails to change gear.

Robey isn't impressed by Pattinson either: he feels his sniffling, blinking performance as a redneck "dimwit" suggests the Twilight star has never seen Tropic Thunder or heard Robert Downey Jr's advice never to go "full retard".

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