Review: ‘Mojave’ is Scattered But Still Engaging
Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund unite for “Mojave,” written by “The Departed” writer, William Monahan.
“Mojave” is a film that may have hidden in the shadows, but with stars like Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Garrett Hedlund (“Tron: Legacy”), it definitely had me intrigued. It also boasted that Screenwriter William Monahan (“The Departed”) was behind the film so the formula for success was there. But did this formula add up? Let’s find out.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, Etc.) – 3
As the film begins, we’re introduced to a bit of mystery surrounded by a plethora of vast, vivid landscapes that visually coincide with the quiet conflict of the main character Thomas (Garrett Hedlund). Jack (Oscar Isaac), the antagonist, is introduced shortly after carrying the same mysterious shroud as he engages Thomas at his isolated desert campsite. This leads to a vague unraveling of character development through more non-specific, philosophical dialogue.
While “Mojave” begins with some thought-provoking speech, it’s followed by the intensity of a thriller as a violent but unsubstantiated rivalry ensues between the two main characters. The unbalanced moments of existential conversations and action-oriented violence will probably make you feel as though the film is jumbled. But while it is jumbled, I found the thematic value overall was not compromised.
You quickly discover that Thomas is a man of privilege and Jack’s beginnings are rooted in hardships. While these aspects of the characters are not extensively explored, their own morality is put into question by the actions one character may be driven to and the other may willingly choose. The execution of this theme may not be fluid but the intent of the correlation between these juxtaposed characters is fascinating if you can ignore the flow of the film.
What stood out most when developing these characters was the performance given by Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund. I love Oscar Isaac right now and he carries this film much like he’s carried many others. But I was also impressed with Garrett Hedlund and I’m beginning to see that he is more than just his role that everyone knows so well in “Tron: Legacy.” He falls a bit into the esoteric realm with his role choices but I think he does have some talent that we may see explored further in the future.
Overall “Mojave” was a bit scattered when it comes to its plot. But the film’s underlying theme, visuals, and performances make it more than acceptable in the realm of cinematics.
Entertainment Value – 3
I may be a bit more generous than others when it comes to entertainment value. There were some intense moments of dialogue that seemed to lag, but I remained engaged due to the performances from the main actors. Outside of the dialogue there were many moments of mystery that kept the intrigue moving forward and high intensity life-or-death situations that would cause the occasional heart palpitation.
If you are in need of consistent stimulation and explanation, then you may not see the value that I do in this film. But if you are one to appreciate the work put into a film like “Mojave” then I think you will find your entertainment needs fulfilled.
Re-Watchability – 2.5
Going off previous statements from other categories, I would be interested in watching this film a second time for both the visuals and performances. For general audiences, you may not share my thoughts. Overlooking the scattered nature of this film could prove to be difficult and grueling for some. But, if you’re a cinephile like me, then you may be able to find the silver lining for a repeat viewing.
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Louise Bourgoin, Walton Goggins
Directed By: William Monahan
Written By: William Monahan
Produced By: William Monahan, Aaron L. Ginsburg, William Green, Justine Suzanne Jones
Running Time: 93 minutes
Rating: R for language and some violence
"Mojave" has its moments of cinematic mastery but the scattered format may be offsetting for many. Both Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund give more than adequate performances despite the drawbacks from some key plot elements.