Rated R. Running time: 1 hour 43 min.
Our content ratings (0-10): Violence 6; Language 5; Sex/Nudity 1.
Our star rating (0-5): 3
In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.
One reviewer aptly calls Australian director David Michod’s new film an “Aussi noir.” Similar to those Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns, scriptwriter Joel Edgerton provides no back story for the main character played by Guy Pearce—nor for the apparent breakdown of order, save for a mention of “The Collapse” ten years earlier. The film is a road movie turned into a chase one, Eric (Pearce) chasing after three guys who steal his one prized possession, his car when he stops at a watering hole. A white Australian Archie (David Field), a black New Zealander Caleb (Tawanda Manyimo) and an American Henry (Scoot McNairy), having robbed a bank, abandon their battered pick up truck and take Eric’s. He gets the truck working and starts on their trail. At a creepy house where an old woman (Gillian Jones) presides over some former circus performers, Eric acquires a gun. His method—shooting unexpectedly the midget showing the pistol—shows us that we are dealing with a protagonist far more ruthless than Mad Max. He also picks up Rey (Robert Pattinson), badly wounded. He turns out to be the fourth member of the gang and the younger brother of the American. Eric at first regards him as a hostage, but this changes, as Rey is so angry over the gang leaving him behind because of his wound that he wants to kill his brother. Eric stops at the clinic of Dorothy Peeples (Susan Prior) who tends to Rey’s gunshot wound. Just as we think a relationship might develop between the attractive doctor and Eric, he shoots with a rifle the circus performers who have come to avenge the midget’s death, after which he and Rey hit the road again. Thus the one relationship that is developed is between him and Rey, which becomes closer after Rey rescues him by killing some soldiers who have arrested and are holding him at their isolated desert station. The future described by this minimalist film is a bleak one in which Australia at least has reverted to the kind of status described in the book of Judges. We do see an occasional military caravan pass by Eric and Rey, but no hint of their origins or destinations is given. Gasoline is carefully guarded by its owners, sold in five-gallon containers and paid for only with American dollars passed through a trough at the bottom of a thick window, the recipient heavily armed in case of a problem. The qualities that make us civilized at the least, and Christian at the best, have been suppressed or cast aside. No room for sentiment in a Darwinian world where only the cunning and physically strong survive. The film’s conclusion will not leave you feeling good, either about the future or the humanity of those who survive. This is definitely not for everyone!