The story of Mojave has the portents for a compelling narrative; questions on the duality of man, writerly discussions on the demimonde and juggles with defining truth. Unfortunately the direction is too rudderless to produce a worthwhile picture.
Thomas (Garrett Hedlund), is a dreary, deadpan film artist. The film opens with him leaving a gorgeous woman in bed as he goes into the desert with a small supply of water and weapons. He crashes his vehicle after downing a large quantity of vodka and comes upon vagabond Jack (Oscar Issac). He flees from Jack and startled, kills a police officer. Thus begins the disconnect for the viewer. It is never clear why he goes to the desert, why he has the supplies with him, why he and Jack have a conflict, etc.
At first I went along with the plot mystery, hoping for a Memento type discover later in the film or hoping that the mystery would fold neatly into the history of the characters, therefore not needing further description but neither happened. Thomas returns to his life in Los Angeles and Jack follows him there insisting on an old-fashioned duel to the death.
Hedlund’s performance as Thomas is so flat that viewers have to smack their cheeks to awaken from his empty gaze and slovenly presentation. Thankfully Issac is in the film or there would be no good qualities to report. He continues his thread of phenomenal performances with this strange character. His Jack is well read and clearly a sharp theoretical thinker yet has lived too long alone to incorporate his ideas into society. He quotes poets with prowess and his fast wit is matched with a strong physical presence. Perhaps he is meant to be Thomas’ other side, a la: Fight Club? If so, the reveal is non-effective and the film holds little merit.
Mark Wahlberg adds some laughs as Norman, and there are some charming scenes between Issac and a small white dog, but these are hardly worth the 93 minutes of your life you will dedicate to watching this still water pond of a film.
My Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Director: William Monahan
Writer: William Monahan
Starring: Oscar Issac, Garrett Hedlund, Mark Wahlberg
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release date: January 22, 2016 (in Houston)
MPAA rating: R