'The Rover': Actor Robert Pattinson is a welcome presence in the story

In 'The Rover,' the audience needs more answers about why a man named Eric (Guy Pearce) pursues the men who stole his car.

Matt Nettheim/A24 Films/AP
'The Rover' stars Guy Pearce (l.) and Robert Pattinson (r.).

Set in a post-apocalyptic Australia “10 years after the collapse,” “The Rover” is a nuggety neo-western starring Guy Pearce as Eric, a loner whose car is stolen by three nasty characters after he pulls up at a dilapidated roadside bar. The three guys leave behind their pickup, which Eric promptly uses in pursuit. 

Director David Michod’s follow-up to his acclaimed debut, “Animal Kingdom,” is effective in an elemental way, but after a while, Eric’s pursuit raises one too many times the question: Why does he bother? Of course, we’re supposed to think that the theft has unhinged him, that this final indignity crosses his line, etc. But I needed a bit more than this mythic inscrutability. (Michod supplies a kicker at the end, but it’s too little, too late.)

When Robert Pattinson shows up as the mentally challenged, severely injured brother of one of the nasties and joins the chase, it’s something of a relief. At least he’s more wacky than mythic. Now if only Mad Max had turned up. Grade: B- (Rated R for language and some bloody violence.)

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