STARRING: GARRET HEDLUND; OSCAR ISAAC; MARK WAHLBURG; WALTON GOGGINS
DIRECTED BY: WILLIAM MONAHAN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
The desert has been the setting for many films, but nobody goes out to the desert solely to get some fresh air. In Mojave, Garret Hedlund plays Thomas, channeling his inner Jim Morrison, as a long-haired, brooding, deep-in-thought writer. He escapes to the barren wasteland, leaving behind his tough life as a celebrity. “I’ve been famous in one way or another since I was 19”, he mumbles. While out there, he will encounter a drifter named Jack (played by a gold toothed Oscar Isaac) who speaks about “meeting God and the devil” while wearing a hat that would make Indiana Jones laugh. From here on out, the two will see each other as enemies and talk talk talk each other’s ears off in a film that will bore audiences, more than entertain.
Director William Monahan’s screenplay takes as many shots as it can at the hollow results of the Hollywood lifestyle. Hedlund’s character sees himself living an unfulfilled existence in the hills, even though he constantly tells us, he’s done it all. Leaving his exotic French girlfriend (Louise Bourgoin) behind and ignoring any adviser looking to give him a hand, he sets out to drink himself stupid, and maybe even use the gun he brought along. Before Thomas arrives to his chance encounter with Jack, he crashes his Jeep, leaving a driver registration in the car. Blows are exchanged around the camp-fire, leaving Jack on the ground, while later Thomas’ paranoia gets the better of him, causing a state trooper to be wrongfully shot. He takes off back home, and the cat and mouse game begins; only it's more like a forgone conclusion, as the dialogue leaves no doubt that these two will see each other again.
The screenplay fails to work throughout, as it is only concerned with telling us how powerful and poetic the words are that our two main characters are saying. Monahan, who won an Academy Award for his screenplay in The Departed, seems to attempt at writing in a Cormac McCarthy-esque style, but fails to have a plot that goes along with it. In Mojave, Isaac carries the drama. His performance has interesting character choices, such as his gruff, drawling accent or a scene where Isaac’s dawns a not so comfortable speedo, proving his commitment to the craft. As the film reveals exactly how truly evil his character is, it feels like a footnote to what we already assumed. Yes, he’s a bad guy. He kept saying he was bad the whole time.
Thomas makes his way back home, always gritting his teeth, constantly looking frustrated. He consults his agent (played by Walton Goggins) and his business partner/drug dealer (played by Mark Wahlberg). The two characters arrive like cameos in an episode of Entourage, not only supplying a bit of comic relief, but also distracting us from the endless chatter to think, “Hey, that’s Mark Wahlberg”. Monahan inevitably moves on to what it was about all along, two men will enter, and one man will leave.
This leads to a long winded meeting in a bar, both men quoting Shakespeare, constantly calling each other “Brother”, and again promising that they will kill one another. At this point, I was begging for one of them to just do something.
In the end, Mojave is a failed attempt at expressing an ugly side to how the Hollywood life can tear someone down. While it's an interesting effort from Monahan to try and make a film about two men hunting each other down, I just wish they didn’t have to talk about it so much, Brother.
1 ½ Stars
Written by: Leo Brady