Mojave Blu-ray Review
MOJAVE first tries to draw you in with intrigue, leaving you stranded and clueless in the desert with its main character. Secondly it tries drawing you in with late night existential musings, trying to pass them off smarter than they actually are. Thirdly it tries to draw you in as a tale of doppelganger revenge. If these three attempts don’t work, which I’m willing to bet that they won’t, you’re in for a very long and bad movie.
At the 20-minute mark of MOJAVE, I had to re-examine the back of the movie to make sure that I was watching the same movie and wasn’t the victim of a wrong blu-ray in the wrong blu-ray box. It tells me MOJAVE is about a suicidal artist, Tom (Hedlund), who goes into the desert where he bumps into a homicidal drifter, Jack (Isaac). That synopsis is more compelling than the first portion of MOJAVE. That summary also implies that there is any substance to Tom and Jack’s characters. There isn’t.
We’re never really told bluntly or even subtly why Tom is supposedly suicidal or why Jack develops a bizarre fascination with Tom. They’re meeting in the desert is apparent happenstance and their connection is just as unsystematic. Their existence in this movie appears to be a mouth for writer and director William Monahan’s ideas on fame, fortune, Hollywood, art, and our phone addicted culture.
My best assumption is that Tom finds no more meaning in life anymore because his creative juices have been drained. In MOJAVE’s world, that’s what a sympathetic character is, but he’s not. He’s violent, self-absorbed and egotistical. Jack may simply be his doppelganger for having those three similar characteristics. But Jack is simply a sociopath, coming off as a deranged college professor who probably believes that chem trails from planes are the government’s way of slowly killing us. If we’re supposedly to feel any form of sympathy for either of these two, my sympathy goes to the one who’s willing to commit a murder-suicide first.
MOJAVE may be the end result of years of praise for Monahan, who’s gotten some much deserved praise for THE DEPARTED. It’s a movie that acts like it can do no wrong, smugly moving from scene to scene, feeling clever, but instead feeling comical and forced. Everyone in this is either over or under acting. There is no middle ground and there’s no sense of direction for anyone involved. It’s bad enough that Mark Wahlberg arrives just in time to add another dose of absurdist flavoring to the script and ideas being presented.
Sometimes I try to find the positives of a movie to justify craftsmanship, but MOJAVE doesn’t deserve any credit for its sparsely sprinkled in lines of dialogue that actually feel genuine, it’s beautifully framed and sweeping establishing shots, or it’s sometimes inspired visuals. After starring in the biggest movie franchise on the planet and helping bring EX-MACHINA to life, Isaac may want to just forget he ever starred in this and laugh off this role like a bad cold.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) MOJAVE is wonderfully shot and has some gorgeous cinematography, and it comes through clearly on this blu-ray.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The dialogue is very low and the action is at the other end of the spectrum. Despite the aggravating conversations, it’s even more aggravating when my ears are blasted after I’m struggling to hear what someone is saying.
A Doppelganger and the Desert: Making MOJAVE (8:55): This is a general run-of-the-mill behind-the-scenes look at MOJAVE. It talks with actors, the writer and director, and others who worked on the movie. When not focusing on the “story”, the feature feels a bit self-absorbed when involving the director.
Deleted Scenes (16:40): There are 12 deleted scenes altogether. The majority are alternate versions of the same scene or continuations of existing scenes. The amount of these scenes highlights the lack of focus.