The Rover

Rated 2.0

From the title card that reads “Ten years after the collapse” to the opening images of stark wastelands and Guy Pearce's weathered face, David Michôd's The Rover wants you to know that it is really, really dark. It would like to be a cerebral, “slow cinema” take on apocalyptic Aussie films like The Road Warrior and Wake in Fright, but The Rover isn't cerebral, just slow, and feels like the work of a talented and ambitious filmmaker with nothing to say. The Australian native Michôd broke through in 2010 with the excellent crime drama Animal Kingdom, and he still shows a talent for dreamily unsettling images, shocking cuts, efficient storytelling and incoherent soundtrack selections. But when the gasoline-powered pursuit at the film's center starts to stall, so does the story, and after a tense opening act, The Rover suddenly becomes enamored with its own navel.