Post-apocalyptic carnage, indie melodrama and money-grabbing B-movie trash -the week’s DVDs go under the microscope.
Set ten years after a major economic collapse, The Rover (eOne) follows cold-blooded drifter Eric (Guy Pearce, Memento) as he traverses the scorched Australian Outback on a mission to track down the men who stole his car -the last thing that he had left in the world.
Soon after losing sight of the posse who robbed him, Eric crosses paths with Rey (Robert Pattinson, the Twilight Saga), a badly wounded member of the gang. Left for dead by his own brother, Henry (Scoot McNairy, Killing Them Softly), the vulnerable and naÃ¯ve Rey gladly falls into step with the older drifter as they head into the unknown in search of payback.
Written and directed by the acclaimed David Michod (Animal Kingdom), The Rover is a brutal, unflinching thriller, albeit one afflicted by a hazy narrative and mismatched central pairing. Despite moments of arresting violence, the film could have done with a few more quirky ideas to alleviate the slow, energy-sapping mood.
Quentin Tarantino has apparently likened The Rover to Mad Max, but the comparison is a lazy, misjudged one, with Michod’s movie falling well short of its classic predecessor. The tightly-coiled rage that Guy Pearce brings to the film is hugely impressive, but in truth, his blistering performance belongs in a better movie. Pattinson, meanwhile, struggles to shine alongside his esteemed co-star, and what was probably conceived as a career-redefining role falls largely flat as a result. If Animal Kingdom was a dense and engrossing tale, The Rover seems positively half-baked by comparison.
Retribution (Signature Entertainment) stars Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Need for Speed) as Hollis, a hard-drinking widower who struggles to cope when his rebellious teenage son Jacob (Josh Wiggins) goes off the rails. Obsessed with heavy metal and motocross -with a penchant for vandalism and arson -Jacob and his crew of sidekicks are increasingly getting in trouble with the law, and Hollis is too drunk and distracted to intervene. However, when his youngest son, Wes (Deke Garner), is whisked away by social services and taken to live with his aunt Pam (Juliette Lewis, Natural Born Killers), the enormity of the problem finally becomes clear, and Hollis has to act before Jacob does something that he will regret forever.
With its UK title mysteriously changed from (the quirkily appropriate) Hellion to (the inappropriately bombastic) Retribution, the distributors seem at pains to make the movie seem more exciting than it really is. Part indie drama, part TV movie tearjerker, Retribution is a glum, cheerless affair saved only by its impressive cast. Young Josh Wiggins (in his first ever acting role) deserves plenty of kudos for his lead performance, and a heavily-bearded Aaron Paul takes a big step away from his career-defining role as Jesse Pinkman -and helps out a low-budget indie production in the process. File under: worthy, but underwhelming.
In The Prince (Lionsgate) retired New Orleans crime boss Paul (Jason Patric, Sleepers) is forced back into the life he gave up when his daughter Beth (Gia Mantegna, The Frozen Ground) suddenly disappears. When Beth’s friend Angela (Jessica Lowndes, 90210) leads him in the direction of a gang led by notorious drug dealer The Pharmacy (50 Cent), Paul soon discovers that the motive behind his daughter’s disappearance is entirely personal. Indeed, the man responsible for the kidnapping is Omar (Bruce Willis), whose own family was mistakenly killed by Paul years earlier. If he has any chance of keeping his daughter safe, Paul must go toe-to-toe with his old enemy and confront his violent past.
With a solid, strangely uncharismatic central performance from Jason Patric -barely recognisable from his barnstorming performance in 2002’s Narc -The Prince is a sluggish, lazy action thriller that seems to have been made for all of the wrong reasons. Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson -making his third straight-to-DVD film with Bruce Willis in as many years -is parachuted in for a meaningless supporting role, as is South Korean singer Rain. Even John Cusack, a man with a decent track record for picking worthwhile projects, pops up for a strange, distracting cameo.
There used to be a time when Bruce Willis’ involvement in a movie was a guarantee of quality. After Cop Out, Set-Up, Catch .44 and The Cold Light of Day his copybook is well and truly blotted. Sadly, Willis seems more concerned with the size of his pay-cheques than the state of his cinematic legacy. After all, why make one good film a year when you can make two bad ones? Make no mistake, The Prince is a very bad film