Mojave [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Eric Cotenas (19th April 2016).
The Film

Burnt-out screenwriter-turned-man-bunned-producer Tom (TRON: Legacy's Garrett Hedlund) walks out on his mansion and his mistress Milly (Black Heaven's Louise Bourgoin) and drives into the desert in a production truck. When his attempt at suicide fails, he sets up camp in the middle of nowhere waiting to die. When too-loquatious-to-be-truly-enigmatic drifter Jack (Drive's Oscar Isaac) stalks into his camp claiming to "feed on unsuspecting travelers" and quoting Shakespeare ("I'm into motiveless malignity"), the equally garrulous wordsmith is unimpressed with his trickster/devil act but not oblivious to the danger the shotgun-toting nut poses. Tom goes on the offensive ("You walked into the wrong fucking camp, brother") and leaves the other man bloodied and unconscious, taking Jack's gun and water canteen and heading back to civilization. Knowing that Jack is tracking him through the desert, Tom keeps a lookout for him through the rifle sight. While he is ready for Jack to strike, he does not anticipate the presence of others who have their place in the desert and mistakenly blows away a border patrol guard. Although Jack witnesses the act ("You're fucked, brother! You're fucked!"), Tom's sense of self-preservation takes over and he wipes his prints off the gun and leaves it behind hoping that the crime will be pinned on the drifter. When he makes it to the nearest town, he discovers in the newspaper not a report on the dead guard but that of the latest desert murder that leads him to believe that Jack is a serial killer. Self-satisfied in the knowledge that he may be bringing a murderer to justice in a roundabout manner, Tom heads back to Hollywood (discovering that his self-absorbed mistress did not even notice the goodbye note he left) and back to post-production on his current film with renewed dedication. Jack, meanwhile, has hitched his way to Los Angeles with some difficulty ("Yeah, I wouldn't have picked me up either," he notes of an RV-ing couple who leave him in the dust), and quite definitively taken over the identity of a producer (The Longest Yard's Christopher Neiman) who thinks he's just fallen off the turnip truck, affording him access to money and information on his prey. Making himself over as a Hollywood lounge lizard, Jack works his way into the periphery of Tom's life in an insidious manner, being casually dismissed by Milly who also does not believe Tom's warnings about the danger he poses, and shutting down his production by murdering sketchy producer (an embarrassing cameo by The Departed's Mark Wahlberg), and more subtle ways of letting him know that he can get to him any time he wants. By the time they finally meet, Tom is ready for a showdown, with Jack picking the location: where it all began.

Barbed satires of Hollywood intended to make the middle class feel like they are better off without fame and fortune are nothing new, and Mojave from writer/director William Monahan (London Boulevard) is attempt at a Hitchcockian take. What perhaps could have been an anti-Entourage gets so bogged down in its own sense of self-satisfaction (the best LionsGate could find in terms of a critical blurb is "This thriller with a Star Wars star is a must-see"). Monahan foregrounds the doppelgänger theme inherent in most mano-a-mano character studies, but then he (or his character) seems repelled by the negative aspects Jack represents in Tom (we know Tom is the writer/director surrogate because he has already become disillusioned with the fame, women, and money that Jack ridicules). Tom is just a pretentious bore who exacerbates his problems by being more concerned with proving his intellectual superiority over Jack to suggest that he is somehow worthier of what he has achieved and what he has not appreciated (his wife and daughter who are living in London but show up for a treacly final shot), and the encounters between the two are tiresome banters where they attempt to out-quote each other. When the climactic encounter turns out to be a game of Russian Roulette with a western twist, it is obvious that Monahan is not really interested in baring his soul through this semi-autobiographical character. Either due to one-note Hedlund's acting or Monahan's direction, the viewer never identifies with the protagonist's anxiety and uncertainty, and instead wants to smack that smirk off his face (and cut that man bun off too); as such, it is so easy for Hedlund to be eclipsed by Isaac's Billy Zane-esque nutter that one expects the film will end with the two switching places what with Jack. Bourgoin and Goggins are given nothing to work with while the degree to which the director indulgently allows Wahlberg to chew scenery. A thriller in which a stalker fixates on a protagonist and tries to force the idea of being their doppelgänger (or vice versa) is potentially interesting, but not well-realized here.

Video

LionsGate's 1080p24 MPEG-4 AVC 2.40:1 widscreen Blu-ray of this attractively-lensed but shallow film is typically of a high standard, making one wish they would extend this kind of treatment to their catalogue titles.

Audio

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is generally sedate but demonstrates the considered nature of the sound design with subtle atmospheres and naturalistic directional effects over the usual jump scares that usually goose the surround tracks in these kind of thrillers.

Extras

Extras start off with "A Doppelganger and the Desert: Making Mojave" (8:55) in which the director discusses the film's autobiographical aspects and Hedlund mutters his way through an interview that is not particularly elucidating (prefacing his comments with "Anybody in the industry would understand..."). The deleted scenes (16:40) - including some alternate edits/takes - were wisely excised as they only make the film feel even more roundabout and longwinded (if that were possible). No trailer is included for the film, but there are previews which are available as start-up trailers or from the main menu.

Overall

A thriller in which a stalker fixates on a protagonist and tries to force the idea of being their doppelgänger (or vice versa) is potentially interesting, but not well-realized here.

The Film: F Video: A Audio: A Extras: F

 


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