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Film / The Rover

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"I want my car back."

"What feeling do you have when you wake up in the morning? When your feet touch the floor? Or before that, when you're lying there thinking about your feet hitting the floor?"

The Rover is a 2014 post-apocalyptic thriller film directed by David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) starring Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

Opening ten years after an irreparable economic collapse, a trio of fleeing raiders led by Henry (Scoot McNairy) steal a Rover belonging to a man called Eric (Pearce). Pursuing the men, Eric soon crosses paths with Henry's dying younger brother, Rey (Pattinson), who was left for dead by the raiders. Eric gets Rey patched up and forces him to help track down the raiders in a seemingly pathological desire to get his vehicle back.

The Rover contains examples of:

  • After the End: The film takes place ten years after some kind of global economic collapse.
  • Anti-Hero: Eric wants his stolen car back, which is justified. Once he murders the circus midget for a gun, it's clear that Eric is not a good guy either.
  • Ballistic Discount: The circus midget allows Eric to examine loaded firearms for sale with no thought to his own protection. He's not exactly a criminal mastermind.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Rey saves Eric from the soldiers as he's being interrogated.
  • Boom, Headshot!: An especially abrupt one for the dwarf, courtesy of an impatient Eric.
  • Break the Cutie: Eric shoots down Rey's optimism with a coldhearted monologue.
    Rey: 'Cause I believe in God and I know Henry believes in God. There's no harm Henry would want to see me come to. I believe in that.
    Eric: Look at the harm you've come to and where is Henry?
    Rey: He's waiting for me.
    Eric: He's not waiting for you.
    Rey: ...Yes, he is.
    Eric: No, he's not. I'll tell you what God's given you. He's put a bullet in you and he's abandoned you out here to me. He feels nothing for you. He couldn't give a fuck if you died tomorrow. God gave you a brother who's not waiting for you. He gave you a brother who's not even thinking about you right now. Just 'cause you and him came out of the same woman's hole... The only thing that means anything right now is that I'm here and he's not. Your brother left you to die. That's what people do. You don't learn to fight, your death's going to come real soon.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Or lack of skill. In one scene, Rey's poor trigger discipline leads to him accidentally killing a little girl. At the climax, his poor trigger discipline causes him to accidentally let a shot off at the wall, leading to his brother shooting him out of reflex.
  • China Takes Over the World:
    • Chinese characters appear on the only really working piece of high tech - a long, long freight train guarded by mercs.
    • Rey speaks in Mandarin to two women at one of the places he and Eric stop, and the DJ on the car radio also speaks in Mandarin.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Eric confesses to the soldier that ten years ago, after witnessing his wife having an affair, he murdered her and her lover, buried them in a hole, and nobody ever came after him for it. It's not made clear whether he's actually telling the truth, or if he's trying to goad the soldier into killing him.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The circus midget selling guns announces, "They're $300 each. That one's $300, that one's $300, and that one's $300."
  • Desaturation: Bright colours seem to have been the first thing to run out after the collapse. The overall colour palette is muted, with a lot of beige landscapes and hazy skies.
  • Determinator: Eric will stop at nothing to get his car back.
  • Dramatic Irony: Eric gives Rey a speech about how Henry abandoned him to die without a care, driving Rey to hold his brother at gunpoint at the end when it's shown that Henry did want to go back for Rey but the others wouldn't let him.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Eric is trying to recover his vehicle, a Rover. In the end, it's revealed that he was really after his dog's remains. "Rover" is a generic dog name.
  • Downer Ending: Eric finally gets his car back and manages to give his dog a proper burial, but most of the named characters, including Rey, are killed. Eric seems to be even more broken from the experience.
  • Dramatic Sit-Down: Eric near the end, after everything is said and done.
  • Dull Surprise: The Asian circus performer's reaction to his two compatriots getting sniped by Eric. Also almost everyone, who are just seeing the days go by without any hope that things will get better.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At Dorothy the doctor's home, Eric stops in a room with several dogs in cages, looking at them with a wistful expression.
    • When Eric is chasing down the men who stole his car near the beginning, he comes within a hair's breadth of slamming into the trunk, but stops just short and backs away.
  • Emergency Authority: A government in Sydney has employed fully armed soldiers to enforce law in the outback. Although they do open fire indiscriminately at least once. They do have to send some lawbreakers back to Sydney for punishment.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: All of the main characters are murderers, yet not without a certain level of sympathy.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: The old man starts Eric's car by plugging a specialised device into the ignition.
  • Hero Antagonist: The soldiers who clash with Rey and Eric.
  • Idiot Ball: After killing the soldiers at the base Rey and Eric seem largely unbothered about taking any of the large quantities of supplies dotted around the facility. They even pay for some items from a merchant later.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Rey's poor gun handling causes two separate incidents in the film, the second of which leading to his own death.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: One of the soldiers in the beginning who Rey and his gang had a shoot out with, and whom Rey wakes up with in sight; Rey's death.
  • MacGuffin Title
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Rey has this reaction upon inadvertently shooting down a little girl.
    • As well as Henry's reaction to killing Rey.
    • Eric arguably has this moment as well after he kills Henry. He apparently realizes his cold-hearted words towards Rey have taken roots, leading the young man to confront and be subsequently killed by his own brother.
  • No Bikes in the Apocalypse: The film revolves around a dispute over a stolen car. Everyone drives.
  • Noodle Incident: The robbery that Rey's gang got involved in or what they were trying to steal is never mentioned.
  • Not So Stoic: After Rey is killed and Eric brings the ordeal to an end, he sits down and starts to cry.
  • Odd Friendship: Eric and Rey form one as they travel after the gang.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Rey infiltrates a military base and kills two soldiers before storming the command tent. After rescuing Eric, he illustrates what happened on their way out.
  • Poor Communication Kills: After Henry's group refuse to return Eric's car, he could have just asked them to let him retrieve the contents of the trunk and be on his way.
  • Post-Apocalyptic Dog: Several in the cages at Dorothy's home. Eric's died before the events of the film.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Rey is nothing but a friendly chatterbox, and Eric responds by mostly being a quiet grouch. Especially apparent during the campfire scene, when Rey starts happily rambling about a pair of siblings he knew who ran a farm:
    Rey: (cheery) And when they died, their family, who we'd never met before, came around, cleared out their house and they found all this... they found all this weird stuff in there. Like... like 50 therm— thermionic radio valves. Like them real old valves they used in old radios. And a pyramid of pumpkins. And about 5,000 of these little sticks about this long. And each wrapped up in newspaper and tied up at the ends with baling twine.
    Eric: (stares) Why are you telling me this?
    Rey: (defensive) I just remembered it. It interested me. Not everything has to be about something.
  • The Reveal: The reason Eric wanted the car back so desperately is because it has the remains of his deceased dog in the trunk.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Eric, as a result of his car being stolen.
  • Shout-Out: To Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior - Dorothy keeps abandoned Blue-Heeler dogs.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: What better song to lead into the violent climax of this post-apocalyptic drama, than Keri Hilson's "Pretty Girl Rock"?
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: The soldiers have a base that has too large a perimeter for them to properly guard. Allowing Rey to sneak in and kill them all.
  • Teach Him Anger: It's subtle, but Eric really is teaching Rey to stand up for himself and be independent.
  • Those Two Guys: The Chinese acrobats who are friends with the circus little person.
  • Unspecified Apocalypse: A title card states that the film takes place ten years after "the collapse," but any further details are unknown. Money still has value, and a government in Sydney is apparently paying some military men for service. US dollars are traded alongside AU dollars, and various vendors show a preference for one or the other with no explanation. Rey and Henry came to Australia "for the mines," but have apparently abandoned that scheme for banditry. Law and order are pretty lax. Eric complains that no one even investigated the murders he committed.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: At the start of the film, one of the bad guys flips over their car, and it goes tumbling past the window of the bar where Eric is drinking, and he doesn't even notice, presumably due to him being lost in thought as his dog has just died, and unable to hear over the deafening music.
  • Vehicle Title
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When Dorothy the doctor objects to leaving with Eric and Rey, Eric puts his hands around her throat and forces her to the ground. It isn't clear if he has killed or subdued her. Either way, she stays behind.

"What does that feel like for you?"