One actor that we’re guilty of neglecting of late is the versatile Australian star Guy Pearce; it’s a matter of some embarassment that we’ve only covered three of his films this week, and it’s Wednesday already. To rectify this, let’s take a look at 2014’s The Rover, an intense slice of dystopian sci-fi from Down Under; not quite the race and chase free-for all of the Mad Max films, but a hard-edged two-hander and with a nihilistic edge to boot.
Pearce is something of an actor’s actor, convincing in any role; pairing him with the highly-recognized if inexperienced (at the time) Robert Pattinson strikes sparks in David Michod’s post apocalyptic drama. Michod had already worked with Pearce on the searing family crime drama Animal Kingdom, and The Rover springs from a short short by Pearce’s fellow actor Joel Edgerton, who co-starred with Pearce on the agreeably tough-nut heist drama The Hard Word.
After an economic and societal collapse leads to the military taking over most cities and the scavangers to make do in the wastelands, Eric (Pearce) and Rey (Pattinson) form an uneasy alliance as Eric slowly unfolds a vengeful intent. But the big question of exactly what he’s avenging is concealed until the final scene of Edgerton’s story, so the trick of any review is not to give away the twist that the narrative hangs on, although there are clues that seem obvious once you know…
The Rover might have used a few more fantasy elements amongst the visuals to make the narrative pop, but the studied intensity of two excellent actors and bursts of grueling lyricism keep you watching. With two immersive lead performances, a desolate atmosphere and some gasp-inducing bursts of in-your-face action, The Rover is a thought-provoking minor slice of sci-fi, all the better for keeping the stakes small.