Written and Directed by William Monahan
Tom, a bigshot Hollywood film director, goes out into the Mojave desert to find himself when he meets drifter Jack who attempts to kill him. Whilst being stalked by Jack, Tom accidentally shoots and kills a police officer and in his panic, frames Jack for the murder and escapes back to his home in Los Angeles. Discovering his location, Jack decides to go after Tom to seek revenge for being framed and to finish him off once and for all.
Intense thriller MOJAVE is a dark drama that focuses on the life of a man who seems to have everything yet at the same time is living, what he feels, is an empty life. His depression and loathing of his situation sees him go to some very dark places and through this he has to fight back to regain control of his life or risk losing his life.
When we see the life that Tom leads, it’s hard to imagine him unhappy with his life but it’s clear that he is. With a wife and daughter back in England and currently sleeping with his leading actress, Tom’s relationship status is more than muddied. His wealth and status also seem to displease him as he appears to be deeply unsatisfied with his life but the real reason as to why is never revealed. Drifter Jack is much like his opposite though shares similarities with Jack. It seems that both desire what the other man has and, in a way, they’re too halves of one whole. At various points during the film, I even thought that they were in fact the same person, just split personalities and even now I get a feeling that that particular theory may be true.
Oscar Isaac once again steals the show in his role as Jack the drifter and it’s his dialogue with Garrett Hedland that are often Mojave‘s best scenes. There’s appearances from Mark Wahlberg and Walter Goggins in minor roles but it’s our two leads who carry the story and who’s characters this film is really about. Whilst Tom runs around like a headless chicken, panicking about the crime he has committed, a cool-as-a-cucumber Jack sneaks into Tom’s life, even gaining access to his home and wearing Tom’s suits. Like a shadow, Jack is everywhere yet no-one realises it until he makes himself known to Tom which is when the real cat and mouse chase begins. The dialogue-heavy scenes between the two are a thrill to watch as one tries to gain the upperhand against the other and you really don’t know who will come out as victorious and how far either of the men will push or be taken to the edge before they snap.
Slick camera work and scene setups makes MOJAVE a delight to watch. Though it feels grittier than it actually is and suffers from a lull in momentum here and there, there’s plenty to keep you glued to the screen, particularly with two strong leading men in Oscar and Garrett. Extra character background on Garrett’s character Tom would have been good to flesh out his role more but, as it stands, it’s still an intense watch.