HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:69
“Mojave” can be summed up with two words. Missed chances. The premise for the movie is a lot of fun and actually has a modicum of suspense to it, what with two unlikeable personality doppelgangers of each other meeting in the desert and turning things into a psychotic game of cat and mouse. The problem is that there are so many missed chances throughout the moderately entertaining film that it saddens the viewer as they see a glimpse of what might have been. Neither of the two men in the story are likeable, and there is some tension thrown into the mix every now and then, but the overly surreal and “wannabe” intellectual script really hampers the films efforts, despite the good performances by both Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund.
When suicidal and depressed actor Tom (Garrett Hedlund) goes off into the Mojave desert to gain some perspective on life, he ends up running into a lonely drifter who seems to share much of his own personality traits. The thing is, this drifter (Jack, played by Oscar Isaac) is a serial killer. Realizing that Jack was up to no good from the start, Tom ends up cold clocking the drifter upside the head and taking his rifle with him. After a small game of cat and mouse in the desert, Tom fires on what he thinks is the pursuing drifter, only to end up putting a bullet through a police officer. Leaving evidence to Jack being the killer on the scene, Tom shoots off to L.A. once again and forgets about his encounter with the devil.
The thing is, Tom didn’t come back alone. Leaving some important information behind, Jack is able to track down the actor and begins to play a psychotic game of cat and mouse that will bring both men to a confrontation that only one man will walk away from. Showing up at his French girlfriend’s house, stalking him at his own home and finally killing his producer Norm (Mark Wahlberg), Jack becomes the embodiment of a vengeful spirit. Taking everything away from the young actor, but ultimately finding out that the two may have more in common than either of them are truly willing to admit.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68354[/img]William Monahan does a solid job at making the two characters ridiculously unlikeable during the short runtime, which ultimately ends up being the best part of the whole film. You can love to hate the two sides of the same coin. On one hand we have Tom, a cynical and depressed actor who has had too much of fame and fortune, wishing only to find himself in the desert. The thing is he actually does find himself. Finding himself in the very mirror image of his personality in the form of Jack. Jack may be a psychotic killer, but he shares many of the same intellectual traits that Tom has and once the cat and mouse game is underfoot we see that Tom and Jack are much more alike than previously thought.
The various traps and encounters during the film are a bit ludicrous though, with Jack seeming to know things before they happen and can predict where Tom and his girlfriend will end up being before the two know themselves. It’s almost metaphysical the way in which both men seemed joined at the proverbial hip in their own minds. There’s even a scene where Jack seemingly is clairvoyant as he knows exactly where the cop’s side arm is hidden in Tom’s house without ever having been there. A house that would have taken an army of men 3 days to search through. The same goes with the ending of the movie as the two nasty men face off against each other. You already know the ending before it happens due to the sheer simplicity of it (despite the obvious attempts at making both Tom and Jack way more intellectual than they have any right to be).
Oscar Isaac and Hedlund do a very satisfactory job with their roles. Hedlund has never been considered a great actor, but the role of the moody actor, Tom, just works to his strengths. Leaving the character to mutter under his breath a lot and scowl into the camera. Isaac seems to be the odd man out, a little bit TOO good for the film. He chews up the scenery as Jack, adding a rasp to his voice that just seems a bit odd and forced, but his dips into mental instability makes him a very believable villain (or co-villain if you think about it). Marky Mark plays to his strengths and uses that Boston accent of his to bring some levity to the screen and Walter Goggins is surprisingly restrained as Tom’s lawyer.
Rated R for Language and some Violence
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68362[/img]“Mojave” comes to home video with a 2.40:1 AVC encoded Blu-ray that manages to be a bit bleak but still very palatable image. Colors are a bit dusty and earthy, with a bit of a blue and green tinge to the overall filter. Skin tones looks accurate for the most part, but contrast is a bit milky and hazy, giving the film a bit of a surreal and dreamy look. Blacks are rather poor with washed out shadow detail and some crush here and there. Fine detail is solid, adding some good detail to facial structures and fairly detailed long shots that succumb to softness here and there. It’s a good transfer, not up to the echelons of great, but still a very serviceable transfer.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=68370[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a very solid track that captures the creepy essence of the drama and adds in some nice ambient noises to fill out the rather front heavy mix. As guessed, a thriller like this tends to be a bit overly front heavy with a ton of pseudo intellectual dialog to take up a lot of the space. Dialog is crisp and clean as can be, and the front soundstage actually makes use of some cool directional queues, especially when Jack is staulking Tom’s house and you can hear the rustle of leaves and a tin can shifting directions and coming from one side and then the next. The surrounds get some solid use with the noises of the desert as well as the heavy bass lines of the thematic score when the film gets stereotypically intense.
• A Doppelganger and the Desert: Making "Mojave"
• Deleted Scenes
• Promo Trailers
“Mojave” is an intriguing, yet slightly disappointing quasi-thriller that just can’t seem to get the traction that it needs to truly bring the audience into the story. It grinds its gears most of the time and spends much of the time setting up the fact that “something” is going to happen, but seems to side step most of those instances until the very end of the film. A bit too metaphysical and pseudo intellectual for its own good, “Mojave” manages to be interesting due to the solid acting by the leads, but stumbles a bit too many times to be anymore more than a rental.
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Mark Wahlberg, Garrett Hedlund, Walton Goggins
Directed by: William Monahan
Written by: John William Monahan
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 93 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 5th 2016
Buy Mojave On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Worth a Watch
More about Mike