Release Date: June 27, 2014
Running Time: 126 minutes
Don’t mess with a man’s ride. This may not necessarily be the message The Rover’s David Michod and Snowpiercer’s Bong Joon-ho intend to send with their chilling visions of a dystopian future. Both directors, though, employ a specific means of transportation with which to examine a society that has fallen apart in the aftermath of a devastating global crisis. A thinking man’s Mad Max, The Rover finds Australia in ruins following an economic meltdown. All that matters to Guy Pearce’s wanderer is his car; when it’s stolen, Pearce goes after the thieves responsible for what we assume is his most prized possession. A scathing political allegory, Snowpiercer takes place during an ice age that has wiped out everyone except for the survivors onboard a train that’s powered by a so-called eternal engine. Living conditions are harsh for the poor souls who inhabit the tail of the Snowpiercer; they are at the mercy of the rich and privileged fools who treat the front of the train as their personal playground. This is personified by the hilariously unctuous Tilda Swinton, who wields an iron fist as the personal assistant to the train’s mysterious creator, Wilford (Ed Harris). No wonder the tired, hungry and disillusioned Chris Evans plots to commandeered the front of the train and overthrow Wilford. Of the two films, The Rover offers the more relatable portrait of a society that has lost its way. Director David Michod brings the same grit and realism to The Rover that informed his crime thriller Animal Kingdom. If Animal Kingdom viewed the human condition with a jaundiced eye, The Rover makes a nihilistic statement about how quickly society can discard its moral compass when money, food, and shelter become scare. Pearce is merciless in The Rover, but it is Robert Pattinson who impresses the most as the halfwit brother of one of the men responsible for stealing Pearce’s car. Forced by Pearce to lead him to the thieves’ hideout, the Twilight Saga heartthrob dirties himself up, summons up a nervous energy that makes him enigmatic and unpredictable, and creates sympathy for a killer who feels abandoned and betrayed by those closest to him. The Rover is Pattinson’s coming-out party as an actor; we now know what he’s capable of, so he no longer has the excuse to just brood onscreen. Chris Evans was once in the same position as Pattinson. He was nothing more than an overconfident jock who couldn’t convey a single emotion even if he had a gun placed at his head. Oddly, he’s slowly but surely developed into a reliable actor as a result of playing Captain America and meeting the challenge of dissecting the damaged psyche of a man out of his time. Fueled by righteous indignation, Evans represents the everyman who finds the courage to rise up against those who dare to hold him and the rest of the unwashed masses down. If The Rover is about a disaster that’s reduced everyone to equals, Snowpiercer examines a class system that refuses to die no matter the circumstances. Throughout Snowpiercer, director Bong Joon-ho asks whether a person must accept his preordained place in society for the sake of balance and harmony. It is a belief held by the train’s creator, Wilford, one that has resulted in many passenger deaths for reasons that may seem rational from the perspective of a powerbroker responsible for thousands but are truly horrifying in nature to those who believe that no one life is worth more than another life. Of all the post-apocalyptic thrillers we’ve seen in recent years, Snowpiercer is without doubt the most political but it’s one that urges us to understand and somewhat appreciate the faulty logic applied by the man in charge. Ending on a somewhat brighter note than The Rover, Snowpiercer also places a greater value of a person’s life. The final moments of The Rover will leave you shaken with its staunch belief in the cheapness of life.
Aired: June 26, 2014
Web site: https://www.facebook.com/SnowpiercerOfficial