Critics Consensus

Mojave has no shortage of talent on either side of the camera; unfortunately, it amounts to little more than a frustrating missed opportunity.



Reviews Counted: 64

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Average Rating: 2.6/5

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In this intense classical thriller, from an original screenplay by Oscar-winning writer William Monahan (The Departed), a violent artist, Thomas, (Garrett Hedlund) has an ominous encounter in the desert with a homicidal, chameleon-like drifter, Jack, (Oscar Isaac). Jack follows Thomas back to his privileged L.A. home life, holding a dark secret over his head as he attempts to infiltrate and destroy his seemingly-perfect life. Thomas must come to terms with his own insecurities and self-doubt to protect himself and his family, and go head-to-head with his nemesis in a riveting two-man clash that plays out in exciting and unexpected ways.

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Critic Reviews for Mojave

All Critics (64) | Top Critics (19)

Isaac is charming and bonhomous as ever, Hedlund is suitably brooding yet dim looking, and Mark Wahlberg is a hoot as a chippy producer perpetually playing host to bored prostitutes.

Mar 24, 2016 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

Might have made a good episode of 'Entourage'.

Mar 21, 2016 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

The screenwriter of The Departed aims for a statement about the perils of fame, but instead comes off as the poster boy for toxic celebrity narcissism.

Feb 5, 2016 | Rating: 0/4 | Full Review…

Writer/director William Monahan won an Oscar for penning The Departed and he obviously needs the discipline Martin Scorsese brought to that picture.

Feb 4, 2016 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

A smudge on the writing record of William Monahan (The Departed), Mojave throws a Hollywood 'player' into the desert to meet the Devil with meandering and pointless results.

Feb 4, 2016 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
Toronto Sun
Top Critic

In his second directorial effort, "Mojave," Monahan has no ... map to follow, and he wanders in a land of sophomoric pretentiousness and banal profundities.

Jan 28, 2016 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Mojave


After winning an Oscar for his taught and labyrinthine screenplay duties on Martin Scorsese's The Departed, William Monahan decided to embark on his own directorial projects. His debut was the misjudged, crime drama London Boulevard which, although not entirely successful, still had some flourishes of substance. Now, with Mojave, Monahan delivers a huge surprise. A surprise, that an Oscar winning writer can deliver something so woefully inadequate. Tortured, put upon, artist Thomas (Garrett Hedlund) heads into the desert to find himself and what he wants from life. What he finds is Jack (Oscar Isaac), a tortured, homicidal drifter which leads to Thomas committing a deadly act that he can't run away from. Jack intends to remind him of it by following him back to L.A. to challenge him to face up to it while destroying his privileged lifestyle in the process. In the interests of fairness, I have to admit that Mojave's premise in two suicidal guys who find themselves hunting one another is a promising one. But that's also what makes the film so frustrating. It has the potential to be an intense, cat-and-mouse revenge tale but never builds on it's promise. There's also a potential intelligence to the film as it makes references to Shakespeare, T.E. Lawrence and explores the philosophical theory of the duality of man. It seems to wear it's existential heart on it's sleeve and the characters talk a good game but Monahan never delivers anything other than words. And even then, some of it is incomprehensible drivel that's dressed up to sound deep. He lacks the ability crank up the tension when it's plain to see that the film is squandering it's positives right before your eyes. To be frank, the problem is with the writing. Plot developments are woefully and insultingly handled; one instance, in particular, has a police officer make a random appearance in the middle of the desert without any explanation as to why he's there. The only reason is to move the plot along and that's not the only time this happens throughout the film. It's problems like this that make you realise that Monahan is not showing any attention to detail and seemingly doesn't care that he's insulting his audiences intelligence. Having Garrett Hedlund as the lead doesn't help matters either; he simply doesn't have the gravitas to carry the film and it's very difficult to find any sympathy for his privileged, self-important character. The least said about Mark Wahlberg's presence, the better. He has nothing to do but hang around in a dressing gown and entertain hookers and it's hard to fathom why he even made an appearance at all. There really is only one redeeming feature and that's Isaac. He adds layer upon interesting layer on his Mephistophelian character and affords him a depth that I'd wager was missing from the script. Monahan doesn't even deserve the talent and commitment of Isaac here. His effortless magnetism gives the film a much needed lift whenever he's onscreen but it's still not enough to save the film overall. Underdeveloped and underwhelming nonsense. The one oasis in this film is the committed work of Isaac but other than him, the content of Mojave is as dry, barren and unproductive as it's title suggests. Mark Walker

Mark Walker
Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

Knowing nothing about it, the plot, or it's characters Mojave begins and quickly takes on a sense of aimlessness. Like its Hollywood wasteland setting, the hopes and dreams of whatever writer/director William Monahan (Oscar winning writer of The Departed) aspired for this to be seems to get lost in the shuffle of the day to day, and the existing lives that thrive purely on indulgence and artificial and material accomplishments that never get around to tapping into their true desires. Mojave, while constantly striving to be more, ends up doing little more than wasting away and ultimately wasting our time. More than feeling like wasted time though, Mojave feels like a missed opportunity due simply to the talent involved. Not only do we have the on-fire Oscar Isaac and the legitimately talented Garrett Hedlund for Isaac to both verbally and physically spar with, but we also have the likes of Walton Goggins and Mark Wahlberg in supporting roles. I won't even harp on the fact Monahan has charismatic folks like Dania Ramirez, Matt Jones, and Fran Kranz in minor supporting roles that he only utilizes for single scenes, but even the likes of Goggins is criminally underused in that a talent of his stature wasn't necessary for his six lines of dialogue. Sure, Mojave has some interesting things going for it as Monahan is a capable writer and pens some interesting back and forth about the measure of success and how it affects the narrative of one's life, but in the end none of it means anything. For all the flowery language and high-brow quotes our two leads pull out of their asses there is no substance in their actions, which I guess is the kind of demons they are attempting to chase away in the first place. How can their lives symbolize their deepest desires and greatest ambitions rather than simply being an on-going conversation about those dreams and desires? Bleak, no doubt, but that seems the writer/directors desired tone which in turn causes his movie to drag. read the whole review at

Philip Price
Philip Price

Super Reviewer

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