ABC Film Challenge – Random – M – Mojave (2015)

Director: William Monahan

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Oscar Isaac, Garrett Hedlund, Louise Bourgin, Mark Wahlberg, Walter Goggins


Plot: A suicidal artist goes into the desert, where he finds his doppelgänger, a homicidal drifter.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Thriller with Potential


Story: Mojave starts as Tom (Hedlund) a suicidal artist who works in film goes off the radar into the Mojave Desert, but when he meets drifter Jack (Isaac) and the two clash leading to Jack tracking down Tom once he goes back to his life in the film world.

With Tom adjusting back to his normal life he must deal with everything he didn’t want to in the first place. Jack however shows his true colours as a ruthless serial killer that tracks down Tom to get the revenge for the fire camp incident in the desert.


Thoughts on Mojave


Characters/PerformanceTom is an artist working in Hollywood, we never seem to learn just what his job is but we do know he isn’t enjoying life right now. Jack is a drifter that hunts in the desert but after clashing with Tom he sees a chance for a new hunting ground, LA who calls everyone ‘Brother’

Performance wise, Oscar Isaac is good in this role keeping up his ability to play someone slightly strange, Garrett Hedlund does ok but you don’t seem to buy into his broken rich man character.

StoryThe story has moments that you could see borrow from Insomnia and The Hitcher, I say this because we have an innocent man that accidently kills someone and must work with the true criminal to move on but ultimately this is a cat and mouse chase between the two.

ThrillerThis is a thriller that does pull us in even though it does take its time getting going, there are some wonderfully crafted scene that are filled with tension though.

SettingsThe desert does make for a good starting setting which shows how they can clash there, with LA making for a good setting for later in the film.

Final ThoughtsThis is a thriller that surprised but does take time getting going and is mixed with really good scenes and bland scenes.


Overall: Slow burning thriller.





Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

kingDirector: Ridley Scott

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay)

Starring: Orlando Bloom, Eva Green, Liam Neeson, Jeremy Irons, David Thewlis, Brendan Gleeson, Maron Csokas, Edward Norton


Plot: Balian of Ibelin travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century, and there he finds himself as the defender of the city and its people.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Long History Lesson


Story: Kingdom of Heaven starts as we meet Balian (Bloom) a blacksmith whose wife has committed the ultimate sin, suicide. When his father the great warrior Godfrey de Ibelin (Neeson) arrives offering to take him to the promise land of Jerusalem to become a warrior he takes the chance to escape the past which is haunting him. When his father dies, he must continue on without him across the seas and the dessert.

Arriving in Jerusalem Balian must start to find his faith once again in a town where prays can be had by any religion un the strict leadership of King Baldwin (Norton). Balian finds himself having to lead the armies of Baldwin as he finds himself in the middle of a religious war during the crusades.

Kingdom of Heaven gives us the story of the battle for Jerusalem during the crusades, I am not good with all my history so most of this I had no idea before watching which made this film all the more difficult to understand what was going on. The battles sequences all come off very well without being wow.

The performance all seem to be what you would expect from the stars involved with the elder being good for their smaller roles and Bloom struggle to be the leading man. In the end this feel just like all the other historical war films with nothing special about what is going on really.


Overall: Overly long history lesson that we didn’t need to know.




Jack Nicholson Weekend – The Departed (2006)

departedDirector: Martin Scorsese

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay) Alan Mak, Felix Chong (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson, Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan, James Badge Dale


Plot: An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston.


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Brilliant Crime Thriller


Story: The Departed starts with the tradition introduction of all the characters starting with Frank Costello (Nicholson) who has been running Boston for years, we meet Colin Sullivan (Damon) who Frank has been grooming to become his connection inside the police force as we watch how fast he rises through the ranks. We also meet Billy (DiCaprio) who has come from the rough side of Boston but become one of the best cadets Queenan (Sheen) & Dignam (Wahlberg) have seen, who talk him into going undercover with the Costello.

We follow as Frank Costello and Queenan work with their informants as they each try to keep one step ahead of each other before all of the twists and turns are around every corner.

The Departed will go down as one of the greatest crime thrillers of all time, it is filled with plenty of twists and turns throughout. I am not usually a fan of the gangster genre but this one pulled me in from the start to finish because we never knew what would happen next. This was a remake of the trilogy of Infernal Affairs and I can safely say this squeezes all of the action from the three films into one. Each character is developed to keep on interested in all of them as we learn what the real motives are. I can safely say this deserved the Oscar praise it gained.


Actor Review


Leonardo DiCaprio: Billy is the special police trainee that gets recruited to go undercover in Frank Costello’s gang. He has come from the rough side of Boston but stayed out of trouble which makes him a prime candidate for this role. While undercover he gets pulled to levels he never thought he would have to go to get his mission complete and stay one step ahead of Sullivan who is tracing him. Leonardo is great in this undercover role showing how he needs to play both sides of the law throughout.billy

Matt Damon: Colin Sullivan is the man who has been working for Costello for nearly his whole life, he is put through the training to become his connection on the inside where he keeps Frank one step ahead of any activity against his men. He also has to track down the men who is undercover in the gang tracking keeping himself away from Billy’s attention. Matt shines in this role of the informant inside the department.colin

Jack Nicholson: Frank Costello is the gangster the authorities are after he runs Boston and keeps his men on the inside while never trusting too many people on the inside of his gang. Jack is wonderful as this gangster playing the role you expect from him and the freedoms he requires.frank

Mark Wahlberg: Dignam is one of the officers that is planting his undercover men in a desperate attempt to stop Costello once and for all. He is direct straight to the point but his temper could also be his weakness. Mark is great as the hot head authority character.didgna

Support Cast: The Departed has a huge supporting cast that all give brilliant performance in the plot filled twist filled story.

Director Review: Martin ScorseseMartin finally won his Oscar for this role and yes it is brilliant as he balances the stories from all three Infernal Affairs stories into one.


Crime: The Departed is a web of conspiracy between the cops and gangsters in the crime world.

Thriller: The Departed keeps us guessing from start to finish through the whole film.

Settings: The Departed uses the Boston setting for the film which shows the gritty side of the story.
: The Departed is a film that I feel everyone should have seen at least once. (Must Watch)


Best Part: Story keeping us gripped.

Worst Part: Nothing.


Believability: No

Chances of Tears: No

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: Won 4 Oscars including Best Picture

Budget: $90 Million

Runtime: 2 Hours 31 Minutes

Tagline: Lies. Betrayal. Sacrifice. How far will you take it?

Trivia: The only remake of a foreign film to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.


Overall: Simply brilliant crime thriller that keeps us on edge throughout.



The Gambler (2015)

logoDirector: Rupert Wyatt

Writer: William Monahan (Screenplay) James Toback (Original Screenplay)

Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Jessica Lange, Brie Larson, George Kennedy, Michael Kenneth Williams, John Goodman


Plot: Lit professor and gambler Jim Bennett’s debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark. Further complicating his situation is his relationship with one of his students. Will Bennett risk his life for a second chance?


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Painfully Dull


Story: The Gambler starts with Jim Bennett (Wahlberg) in a hospital with his dying grandfather. Jimmy is a gambler and he takes on the most elite unground games in the city he starts with blackjack turning $10,000 into $80,000 but within the five minutes he lost it all. Jim owes the owner money and borrows money from another man who lends him $50,000 as he goes after the money he owes. Jim does make the money back and then some on blackjack before blowing it all on roulette.

Returning to his day job Jim is a college professor who teaches English trying to inspiring the next generation of writers. One of his students Amy Phillips (Larson) very quiet but Jim sees her as the potential best student he has. Jimmy goes to his mother Roberta (Lange) for money she refuses to help to try and teach him the lesson for himself. Jim goes to Frank (Goodman) who can’t understand how Jim wants that much money when he should be able to cope by himself. Frank refuses to lend the money leading to Neville (Williams) wanting his money back early. Jim has to find a way to pay back all the money he owes but his lifestyle doesn’t seem to help in any way.

The Gambler is one of those films that has such an interesting idea but seemingly goes nowhere fast. The idea that this man is involved in gambling is good and how he owes multiply people money I can go with but then just blowing it over and over again while have a good normal well-paying job makes very little sense. We end up watching a one man crash which turns boring with not a single scene pulling you in to the story in anyway. We are left not rooting for the lead, not caring what the loan sharks do and for the students what are they thinking? This really was a poor story that is easily forgotten. (3/10)


Actor Review


Mark Walberg: Jim Bennett the English professor who has a slight gambling problem which leads him to grow his debts. He tests all his personal relationships to repay the debts. Mark has tried playing a teacher, remember ‘The Happening’ yeah this guy can’t play teacher. (3/10)


Support Cast: The Gambler has a supporting cast that is students who all seem to make weird choice for their situation, loan sharks who keep giving money to a guy who never seems to pay it back and family that hates our lead. They all come into the week that Jim is having without really making you wonder what will be said.


Director Review: Rupert Wyatt – Rupert doesn’t drive the story home as hard as it should have been and it ends off coming off very plan and forgettable. (4/10)


Crime: The Gambler shows that happens when you get mixed up with loan sharks in the underground crime scene. (7/10)

Thriller: The Gambler doesn’t manage to pull you in like it should have done. (3/10)

Settings: The Gambler settings all look very generic for the type of film. (5/10)

Suggestion: The Gambler is one you could easily miss and not have to worry about people asking you if you saw it. (Miss It)


Best Part: Basketball scene is about as good as it gets.

Worst Part: Dull storyline.


Believability: No (0/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Chances of Sequel: No

Post Credits Scene: No


Oscar Chances: No

Box Office: $33 Million (So Far)

Budget: $25 Million

Runtime: 1 Hour 51 Minutes

Tagline: The Only way out is All in.


Overall: Way To Boring

Rating 30