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Mojave Diamonds (2023) Review

Joe (Chael Sonnen, Grudge Match, Here Comes the Boom) and his brother Danny (Chris Maher, Canyon Del Muerto, Blowback) are out hunting in the desert when Danny says he wishes their other brother Roy (Donald Cerrone, The Weapon, Project Legion) were with them. This sets Joe off on a rant because Roy apparently is a disgrace because he isn’t rich like he is. It seems Roy traded a career in the military for one in MMA only to get injured and now drives a truck.

Roy’s real problem is that he can’t let go of his MMA dreams and still fights in underground tournaments. But when his overconfidence gets him knocked out, it costs mob boss Julian (Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Midnight Meat Train, Lord of the Streets) a lot of money.

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In retaliation, he kills Roy’s girlfriend in front of him, “An hour ago you were fucking her brains out. Well, I just blew her brains out”. Then he threatens to do the same to Joe’s family unless Roy smuggles fifty million dollars worth of diamonds to a buyer in Mexico. With no other option, and Danny along for the ride, Roy hits the road only to have his cargo jacked by a rival mob.

If all of this sounds extremely familiar, it should be because Mojave Diamonds is far from original. The feuding brothers, having to transport something for the mob, having that cargo get stolen, we’ve seen it all before.

It doesn’t help that writer/director Asif Akbar (Morbid Stories, The Commando) only gives the viewer a couple of half-hearted fights in the film’s first half. Even the high jacking, which should be one of the film’s high points, is weak. A bunch of masked goons show up, shoot the gas station attendant and steal the truck. The brothers hide, and we see the odd bit of dust and flying debris.

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It’s not so much that the budget for Mojave Diamonds doesn’t allow for a lot of action, but that the action we get isn’t well staged even for a low-budget film. The first fight looks like both men are sleepwalking through it, there’s no energy or spark to it. Jackson, who looks like a cross between Rocky III era Mr. T and present day Steven Segal at least shows a little flair while throwing a handful of punches.

And that lack of enthusiasm extends to the non-fighters as well. The one person I expect to give us a show, Nicolas Cage’s son Weston Cage Coppola (Assault on VA-33, Circus Kane) spends most of his screen time chain-smoking and looking bored.

And who can blame him as the film jumps from cliché to cliché? Joe just happens to have enough military grade weapons to outfit the Ukranian army and a jacked-up 4×4 to storm Julian’s mansion. Not that it’s needed, as a crew of Imperial Stormtroopers would have had a better chance of hitting the trio than Julian’s guards. The fact that it takes a deus ex machina ending involving an FBI agent we’ve barely seen before to wrap it all up just as the film was finally giving us a final fight is just the final insult Maojave Diamonds offers its viewers.

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On the plus side, yes there is one, Mojave Diamonds is better than the last film Akbar directed, The Commando. And Cerrone is finally starting to show some acting ability. But apart from a painful looking torture scene involving a bowling alley and some extra balls, there’s really not much else worth mentioning.

With a clichéd plot and mostly lifeless fight scenes, Mojave Diamonds is the cubic zirconia of action films.

Mojave Diamonds is available in North America on DVD and Digital Platforms via Lionsgate. High Fliers will release it in the UK on June 19th under the title Nevada Heist. If you’re still in the mood for some action, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.

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