R  |  93 min  |  Thriller
Review - Matt Mungle

**In theaters January 22nd 2016**

SynopsisIn this intense classical thriller, from an original screenplay by Oscar-winning writer William Monahan (The Departed), a violent artist,  has an ominous encounter in the desert with a homicidal, chameleon-like drifter in a riveting two-man clash that plays out in exciting and unexpected ways. 

Review: How do you solve a problem like, MOJAVE? It has some very capable actors (well at least one) with a script that is Shakespearean drama at times with its deluge of dystopian dialogue. But something is lacking. Something is just a tad enough off center to make it disjointed and on the verge of toppling. Maybe the fact that you do not really care for, even if you like them, any of the characters you meet? As one line in the film says, "have you figured out which one of us is the bad guy yet?". It isn't an easy question to answer. 

Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) is a successful film maker beat down by something. It could be a culmination of many things but it is never quite clear why he is so irritable. When one of his tantrums sends him in to the dessert for a few days he butts heads with Jack (Oscar Isaac), an odd and obviously unhinged drifter. A few unfortunate events later and Thomas finds himself being stalked by this drifter making none of Thomas' friends or colleagues safe. 

The script has lofty goals and many fundamental scenarios. There are crimes committed that help move the plot in the direction it needs to go. But then they are sort of swept under the rug later as unnecessary weight. In fact this film is about as bare bones as it comes in the way of character background, motivations, and redemptive measures. The characters are thrown on screen without much introduction. Then they disappear just as fast only to pop up again vaguely, as needed, to propel the story. Much if not all of the meat is placed on the conversations between the two main players. Actually Jack does most of the talking - robust tirades mingled with philosophy, sarcasm, and gibberish - while Thomas spews a few words of angst filled rebuttal. 

Isaac is a dang good actor and we have seen him deliver all types of persona's. It is no doubt that he was brought on as the backbone of the film. He has to sell the words and the homicidal tendencies of Jack. If he does not convincingly articulate each phrase then it will all crumble. So what we get is a solid piece of acting lost in a sea of meandering plot lines and unfinished business. 

It is worth mentioning that Mark Wahlberg is in this film. Or maybe he would rather it not be mentioned. Regardless he plays a loud mouthed philandering film producer working on Thomas' latest project. You get the feeling he shot all of his scenes in one afternoon with little or no concern for trying to not be Mark Wahlberg. He does add some comic relief even if he was never supposed to be funny.

MOJAVE is rated R for language and some violence. It is an adult, male driven drama. Fans of Oscar Isaac will get more from this than most. He is fun to watch in these roles. If you can set aside the lack of plot and myriad of holes in the story then you may actually enjoy it a little. It will keep you hanging on until the end. I give it 2.75 out of 5 sand dunes. It just shifted too much the wrong way. 

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