The Rover is a fictional, prequel spin-off to the 1983 cult classic The Wild Life, directed by Robert Pattinson and co-written by the legendary George Peppard (Mad Max). Set in the 1950s, the movie follows a group of travellers who become embroiled in a deadly race across America.

The story opens with English roustabout Ben Matlock (Pattinson) and his companions, Johnny Tram (Samuel Bass) and Babe Bennett (Jeffrey Donovan), desperately trying to make their way from Texas to Arizona, where they intend to set up a leisure camp, complete with fishing rods, hiking boots and ice-tea makers. But the journey is far from straightforward and the group soon finds themselves travelling through some of the more dangerous and unpredictable regions of America.

The cast and crew were joined at the London premiere by the legendary Marlon Brando, who plays themselves in the movie, alongside a number of other famous faces, including John Huston, Sydney Pollack, Lee Marvin, Robert Mitchum, and Montgomery Clift. Plus, there’s a cameo from singer-songwriter Elvis Presley as himself.

The Movie’s Biggest Surprise

The biggest surprise about The Rover is not its highly fictionalised setting or the performances of its stellar cast, but rather the fact it was directed by a 27-year-old up-and-coming filmmaker named Robert Pattinson. A graduate of London’s King’s College, the young Pattinson received a cinematic education working on various commercials and short films before making his feature-length debut. It’s fair to say he didn’t quite live up to the expectations of fans of his previous work, given that The Rover is an unmitigated disaster.

The movie itself is a sprawling, overlong action-adventure that grinds to a halt every few minutes for some inexplicable reason, resulting in an incoherent mess. The fact that it was poorly shot on a low budget (most of the fight scenes and car-chases were virtually hand-held) doesn’t help either. The final nail in the coffin is the presence of some truly dreadful American accents, which made it even more difficult for the non-native English speakers amongst us to follow the narrative.

Pattinson’s direction is often clumsy, disorientating and amateurish, with some of the action scenes looking like they could have been lifted straight from a video game. The young director also seems to have inherited the verbosity of George Peppard, which means it can sometimes be difficult to follow the story, as there are often lengthy exposition-filled pauses in the middle of the action. As a result, the movie frequently stretches the bounds of credulity, with some of the plot developments, particularly towards the end, falling into a realm of parody.

The only real saving grace about The Rover is its soundtrack, which is led by an iconic song, I’m A Fugitive, performed by Elvis Presley, which was inspired by a Robert Mitchum character in the movie, Rondo Hatton. The musical numbers are interspersed throughout the narrative and, along with the iconic Americana-tinged music, provide a welcome shot of charm and joy, especially in the middle of the wilderness.

Critics loathed the film upon its 1985 premiere in Los Angeles and it currently holds a 13% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with a more than respectable 54 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10. Even those who were relatively kind, such as Roger Ebert, noted that The Rover was “overlong, padded out with pointless digressions, [and] filled with gratuitous violence.” In the future, we’ll probably look back and consider this to be one of the lesser works from Robert Pattinson.

What’s the Latest News on the Possible Replacements for Robert Pattinson?

There are inevitably going to be some people who will feel cheated that they didn’t get to see Pattinson play Ben Matlock in the movie, considering the source material was originally meant to be a prequel to The Wild Life. As a result, we’re going to have to wait until at least 2021 for a chance to see an English actor other than Pattinson play the lead role of Ben Matlock in an adaptation of the classic novel. In the meantime, here are some of the notable names that have been linked with the role over the last few years.

John Hillcoat

Actors, directors, and writers are often associated with particular character types or themes, and John Hillcoat is probably best known for his work in westerns and action movies. He’s most famous for his film, Lawless, starring Jessica Chastain and directed by John Hillcoat. The screenplay was written by Billy Ray, adapting his own novel, The First Cowboy.

Lawless was an attempt to blend the poetic nature of John Hillcoat’s work with the visceral action of a traditional Western. The film tells the story of a young woman, Gail Goode (Chastain), who is determined to make a name for herself as a songwriter in the wilds of Kentucky, where she and her husband, Homer (Donovan), have relocated after she becomes successful. Although she has a clear love for the country, Homer isn’t too happy about her decision to leave California, where they both grew up. And Gail isn’t too happy about having to play by the rules of the Nashville establishment either.

The couple’s adventures lead them into conflict with the established social order and corruption in the region, as well as with the local police force, who are more than happy to use excessive force in pursuit of a criminal.

Giovanni Ribisi

Giovanni Ribisi is a character actor, best known for playing Italian-American gangsters and wise guys in various films, such as The Accidental Tourist, Death Proof, and The Big Bounce. He has also appeared in a number of films directed by Tony Scott, including Man on Fire and Crimson Tide, and in Ridley Scott’s The Martian. Most recently, he appeared in the indie movie, The Rider, alongside Taylor Kitsch and Rosario Dawson.

Recently, it was reported that Giovanni Ribisi was in early talks to play Ben Matlock in the upcoming adaptation of The Rover. The news was corroborated by The Hollywood Reporter, which stated that Ribisi is currently in talks to star in the upcoming adaptation of George Peppard’s The Rover as Ben Matlock, a small-time criminal who, after accidentally killing a man, flees to Texas to escape the law.

Paul Newman

One of America’s greatest film actors and a legend in his own right, Paul Newman, played Matt McLean, the title character’s father, in the 2010 film, The Rovers. Although he didn’t actually shoot anyone, the iconic American actor was nevertheless jailed for reckless driving in 1957 and, as a result, his license to drive was revoked. In the film, Newman’s character is forced to flee from the law after he accidentally kills a man while fleeing from a bank robber. He then makes his way to Texas, where he hopes to start a new life.

It’s an interesting contrast to the real-life experiences that inspired the character of Matt McLean, who was, in fact, inspired by Richard Scudder, a noted anti-draft leader during the Korean War, and author of the book, Fugitive Lovers, about his experiences as a soldier of fortune. Upon hearing the news that Newman would take the role, fans of The Rovers were delighted and began lobbying for a real-life reunion, as they wanted to see Newman and McLean team up onscreen, for better or worse. But the iconic American actor has passed away in September 2018, aged 92.

Nick Nolte

Nick Nolte was one of America’s greatest male actors. He’s best known for his role as Capone in the classic mafia film, The Godfather, which he also directed. Nolte also appeared in such films as Conviction, An Officer and a Gentleman, and Roadracer. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1986 for his performance in the movie, A Streetcar Named Desire.

More recently, he played the role of Harry Matterson in Michael Weatherly’s The Mountaintop and has had a recurring role on Timeless, starring William H. Macy and Alex Winer.

In November 2017, Nolte was reported to be in early talks to play Ben Matlock in the upcoming adaptation of The Rover. The reports stated that Nolte would be taking the role, which would reunite him with Scott, who directed him in The Godfather.