With a death wish burning in his brain and a deep desire to lose himself where no one can find him tortured artist Thomas (TRON: Legacy’s Garrett Hedlund) leaves L.A and heads off into the endless Mojave desert in the hopes of discovering what it is his life is lacking.
Crashing his jeep he is forced to walk sleeping under the starts with only a bottle and his thought for company that is until the mysterious stranger Jack (Oscar Isaac last seen in Star Wars: The Force Awakens) appears by his camp fire dressed like a wild west throwback carrying a rife and quoting Shakespeare.
As the two shares a tense parlay it is revealed that neither are what they seem and their metaphysical musings mix in with the intense foreboding atmosphere that violence is not far away.
Forced into a fight Thomas escapes Jack but stuck in the middle of the uncaring sadistic sands with a killer on his trail he knows it isn’t long till he is caught. A twist of fate changes the game of cat and mouse and gives Thomas the chance he needs to head back to civilization and his normal life but Jack is far smarter than he anticipates.
So begins the true chase between the doomed duo as Thomas’s life is turned upside down by his nemesis who is intent on destroying everything he can to fulfil his warped destiny.
Although you may feel the above synopsis is somewhat cryptic and ornate this is completely intentional not only because Mojave is a film dealing with much more than its simplistic thriller killer plot line but also because like so many great films the less you know about the movie the better it is.
Evoking many classic psychopathic tales and desert set horrors from the two incarnations of The Talented Mr Ripley to The Hitcher to Dust Devil and Seven Psychopaths first time director William Monahan, who wrote the script along with penning Edge of Darkness and The Departed, weaves a gripping story of confused identity, unhinged emotion and terrifying transformation that speeds along like a bullet.
Toying with the audience the two complex central characters are masterful creations neither truly evil nor blandly good with both simultaneously gaining and losing our sympathies and loyalties sometimes during scenes pushing the viewer to confront their own preconceptions on human nature throughout.
The script however would be nothing without the towering talents of Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac bringing it into being both lighting up the screen as they are forced to go head to head with fists and words again and again till one of them breaks.
Isaac especially gives an award winning turn as Jack the enigmatic intellectual unstoppable murderer as funny as he is fearsome who blends into his environment like a chameleon hunting down his prey.
Overflowing with pithy one liner’s and superior speeches Mojave looks and feels like an instant cult classic and featuring turns from Louise Bourgoin, Walton Goggins and a surprisingly hilarious Mark Wahlberg it is as much a critique of the lifestyle of the rich and famous as it is a philosophical essay on life and death yet nowhere near as pretentious as that sentence makes it sound.
A must see movie and the best thriller of the year so far Mojave paints a powerful portrait of psychosis and fame filled with tension, terror and two outstanding on screen performances.