Niagara Gazette

Night & Day

June 17, 2014

CALLERI: Movie map highlights Australia, England, and Gonzo America

Niagara Gazette — This week’s new movies journey around the English-speaking world with stops at various points on the madness scale.

Each of the three films are centered around an individual who is compelled to cope with people out to do harm, or out to control, or out to drink the other under the table.

“The Rover” tales place in a bleak expanse of the Australian outback ten years, as we’re advised in an opening title card, “…after the collapse.” Exactly what collapsed is unknown. The movie explains nothing. But it’s possible that Australia simply had so much sunshine beating down on it that it became the first nation destroyed by global climate change. The landscape is coated with dust, the hot air is beyond dry, and uninteresting people loll around in uninteresting rooms staring out windows or possibly waiting for something to come through the front door to end their collective misery.

David Michod wrote and directed “The Rover,” and he probably thought he was presenting an ode to nihilism and obsession, but what he’s delivered is an expression of boredom so stultifying that you keep reminding yourself that your watching an action picture. An inaction picture is more like it. This is not “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior.” In fact, it’s the polar opposite.

Guy Pearce plays Eric, a laconic fellow who has his car stolen. He wants his automobile back. And he will spend the entire film trying to retrieve it. He wants his own vehicle so badly that he steals a truck to chase the men who pilfered his car. Quirky denizens of this arid world are willing to sell him petrol and bullets, but only if he pays in American dollars.

Eric hooks up with a twenty-something, gun-toting, dimwitted chap who’s been shot. You have every right to ask who shot him, but forget about that rather quickly because, again, answers aren’t forthcoming. The young man is played by Robert Pattinson, who speaks in a discordant American accent from the deep south. His drawl is so unconvincing that you wonder if his “Twilight” star power was the reason he could get away with sounding as if he just stepped off the set of “Deliverance.”

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