Published Feb 09, 2016Mojave, novelist-turned-screenwriter/director William Monahan's (The Departed) pseudo-cerebral, vaguely Hitchcockian thriller, is the kind of movie that presents as a social critique, but doesn't end up saying much of anything at all.
Garrett Hedlund plays Thomas, a Brad Pitt/Heath Ledger-esque Hollywood dreamboat who seemingly has it all, yet ventures off alone into the Mojave in an attempt to exercise his demons during a sort of existential crisis. It's there that he meets Jack (Oscar Isaac), a drifter who stumbles upon his campsite late one night and, for whatever reason, decides to stalk him through the desert after their verbose encounter. In a fit of alcohol-induced paranoia, Thomas ends up shooting a local sheriff and Jack is the sole witness to the crime. Looking to make a quick buck (and because he's a homicidal maniac, of course), Jack follows Thomas back to L.A. hoping to extort and execute him.
It's a tale, for the most part, about Hollywood culture and narcissism, and how the two go hand-in-hand, but Monahan's main folly here is his overwrought script, which succumbs to the same kind of aggrandizement that it purports to critique.
This is a movie made up of many monologues that twist and turn but don't end up anywhere in particular. Isaac, to his credit, makes up for that fact by being as chameleonic as the desert drifter that he plays, leaving little to no trace of the original man behind; his performance is the most memorable aspect of the film, even if it's hard to remember exactly what he said.
Sadly, Mojave is too much of a mess for average audiences (although cameos from Mark Wahlberg and Walton Goggins may help keep interest) and doesn't have enough meaningful commentary to keep cinephiles hungry for more. In his attempt to offer a thoughtful critique of the world around him, Monahan ends up just being part of the problem.