Award winning screenwriter, William Monahan (The Departed), writes and directs this psychological thriller that’s light on thrills and heavy on the philosophical banter. The story centres on two men crossing lonely paths on a cold night in the desert. The first is Hollywood big shot, Thomas (Garrett Hedlund), who is escaping his LA lifestyle via suicide by vodka and heatstroke. The second man is Jack (Oscar Isaac), a shifty loner who, unbeknownst to Thomas, is a serial killer. Breaking bread over a campfire, the two men come to blows, and a third man winds up dead. Seeking sanctuary, Thomas hightails it back to Hollywood with Jack in pursuit.
After a slow-burning but strong start, Mojave’s wheels spin once it leaves the titular desert. Thomas tries to return to a life of normality whilst in danger of tripping over his furrowed brow. It’s safe to assume that Thomas is our hero, but he’s so distinctly unlikeable that it’s hard to know whether you should cheer or boo his behaviour. It doesn’t benefit the viewer that Hedlund chooses to mumble his lines into his beard.
Meanwhile, Jack trades in his drifter gear for a pair of pink speedos after he starts housesitting for a man that he’s just killed. In fact, Isaac’s scenes are the more enjoyable, and he’s missed when not on screen. The Star Wars: The Force Awakens star captures your attention even when the script isn’t giving him much to do but debate George Bernard Shaw and call everyone “brother.”
A classic game of cat and mouse threatens to break out at any second, but never really comes to fruition. Instead, Monahan takes pot-shots at the showbusiness world with frequent drop-ins on Mark Wahlberg, cameoing as a loudmouth studio exec who continually fights with Walton Goggins as Thomas’ lawyer. Mojave is a wandering oddity that doesn’t really go anywhere.