Guy Pearce on a kill quest to get back his car. A couple revelations of underlying motives aside, this is all there is to The Rover‘s plot. Abducting the younger brother (Robert Pattinson) of one of the thieves, Pearce plays Eric, a traumatized survivor of global economic collapse, with a single-mindedness communicated entirely in his middle-distance stare. Nothing wavers in The Rover. Director David Michôd holds the frame on every shot, whether Pearce is driving down a highway, asking about his prey’s whereabouts, or murdering the latest person in his way. Also telling how many of Eric’s conversations end up being two people talking past one another: in an opium den, he asks “Have you seen my car?”, to which a woman replies “What’s your name?”, eliciting only “Have you seen it?” Eric is also a quick trigger finger, blowing the brains out of a random soldier attempting to take away his only lead (amongst other murders). Dialogue and violence are both stunted exchanges between selfish people, encapsulating how broken this world is. People are introduced laying about their homes or what passes for businesses, waiting for something, anything to break the tedium–the apocalypse only inspires ennui. Nowhere is this more apparent than when Eric reveals the fate of his wife to another soldier, to the latter’s disinterest. The confession is erased moments later by a couple gunshots. Michôd toys with the idea Pattinson’s talkative, emotional (possibly slow) captive might be the only person left who can relate to Eric: he prompts conversations unrelated to the plot, sings, even uses pleasantries, the last vestiges of civilized behavior. Momentarily, Eric even shows flickers of humanity. That there are only flickers accentuates how doomed civilization is.