JONAH HEX Movie Review -

Movie Review

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  • Movie: Jonah Hex
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Running Time: 1 hrs. 21 min.
  • Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Shannon, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Aidan Quinn and Wes Bentley
  • Written By: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer,
  • Directed By: Jimmy Hayward
  • Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Series: Jonah Hex

JONAH HEX Movie Review

Not In The Face! Not In The Face!

By Rob Vaux     June 18, 2010

Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex(2010).
© Warner Bros. Pictures


I wonder at which point in the production Jonah Hex went so wildly wrong. Certainly not with the hiring of Josh Brolin, who alone among the principle creative forces seems to really understand the character. But whatever the problems were--whether it was replacing directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor with animation journeyman Jimmy Hayward, or some similar bit of Hollywood “magic”--they came early enough to sabotage the entire affair. The resulting film speaks to a desperate patch job in an effort to deliver something--anything--watchable before being thrown to the summer wolves in the middle of June. It runs a sparse 76 minutes if you don’t include the credits… every one of them a jumbled, confused mess.
At least you can’t accuse the film of deviating from canon, since the canon itself is a bit of a quagmire. And Jonah Hex sets up a suitable cocktail of steampunk, black magic and Leone-esque western to establish the proper mood. Confederate soldier Hex (Brolin) balks when his superior, General Turnbull (John Malkovich), orders him to burn down a hospital; instead, he betrays the unit to the North, prompting Turnbull to slaughter his wife and child while he watches, then sear the right side of his face with a brand. Crow Indians nurse him back to health, and he emerges from the ordeal with the ability to speak to the dead. He makes a living as a bounty hunter until Turnbull shows up again with a plot to destroy Washington using a new super weapon.
The script borrows heavily from The Outlaw Josey Wales, as well as some of the more unseemly parts of Wild Wild West. It might have been serviceable, however, had Hayward not been so emotionally tone deaf. Once he establishes the basic atmosphere, he goes absolutely nowhere with it, repeating the same notes over and over again. Hex is a bad-ass, he wants revenge, pointing a gun at him is a bad idea, blah-blah-blah. A few bits of Q-style cowboy gadgets are intended to liven up the affair (without success), as is Turnbull’s hackneyed effort to bring the United States to its knees. Even with such a brief running time, the action gets old very quickly, as does the film’s annoying habit of trying to appear contemporary (referring to Turnbull as a “terrorist,” for example).
Jonah Hex compounds that by rushing through everything in a frantic effort to get where it’s going. One gets the sense of copious subplots left on the cutting room floor, which explains why superfluous figures like Megan Fox’s hooker with a heart of gold or Will Arnett’s painfully earnest Union officer seem shunted off into their own separate movie. Other characters arrive and depart with little rhyme or reason, including a yellow dog who serves no purpose besides following Hex around for a little atmosphere.
Whether the excised elements were any good or not is beside the point; their absence leaves great chunks of exposition papered over by Brolin’s thuddingly obvious voice-over narration and similar storytelling shortcuts. The shutter-stop editing and monotonously thunderous musical score defeat any effort to get into the story, reducing every scene to the same basic proposition. Malkovich gives Ben Kingsley a run for his money in the Which Slumming Actor Can Cash His Check Fastest department, as do other performers like Aidan Quinn, Michael Shannon and Michael Fassbender (all far too strong to be stuck in this drek).
As for Brolin, he constitutes the film’s sole saving grace, with a properly grim tone highlighted by just enough of a twinkle in his eye. He deserved better, as did the character: a minor addition to the DC canon who nonetheless demonstrates that comic books are more than just capes and superheroes. There might have been good movie here at one point, but when things go this far off the rails, searching for anything positive becomes an exercise in futility. Jonah Hex lost its way long before it hit the screen, laboring mightily to deliver a threadbare collection of postmortem detritus. Don’t waste your time sifting through it; the process is just too depressing for words.


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sportwarrior 6/18/2010 1:49:03 AM

Sounds about right. The trailers looked absolutely awful. I'll give it a shot on Netflix eventually, but it's a shame to see intriguing properties like this one manhandled so poorly in Hollywood.

domino2008 6/18/2010 2:14:19 AM

too bad , this movie deserved better . what a waste .

domino2008 6/18/2010 2:15:39 AM

too bad , this movie deserved better . what a waste .

hanso 6/18/2010 2:29:37 AM

 This movie looks like crap, I'll wait for Netflix.

spiderhero 6/18/2010 4:09:45 AM

Now there's a good idea, shunting Megan Fox into other movies, but make them movies that never see the light of day. That would be nice.

jedibanner 6/18/2010 4:58:28 AM

Now there that many ''fans'' of Jonah Hex out there that a movie about that character needs to be made? Of all the things DC could've chosen to make, they picked Jonah Hex....and then DC wonders why they are not # 1 in sales and their movies don't make money.

Although I'm sure now people will start blindly bashing Megan Fox, it has nothing to do with her or her ''bad acting''. The character sucks, the story seems to sucks, it has NOTHING to do with Megan Fox. The movie is obviously crap and the characters couldn't be more boring but, it's certainly nobody's fault other then DC for chosing such a poor, boring uninteresting character like Jonah Hex and make a movie about him.

Darkknight2280 6/18/2010 5:23:46 AM

Yeah DC why in the EFF did you pick this movie to make? I mena i think Josh Brolin is a great actor and everything but i dont think he can save this wild wild west "like" movie. I cant say it sucks but it deff looks cheesy. I will wait for HBO.

ponyboy76 6/18/2010 5:28:46 AM

I've never read a Jonah Hex comic and the only time I had ever heard of him was after watching a Justice League Unlimited episode. He seemed like an interesting character and he is, but DC obviously didn't know how to handle him with any sort of skill. They were probably trying to pull a Blade. He was pretty unknown but because the movie was well done, it made money and opened the door to sequels. DC though, threw this together. No wonder it sucks.
And Jedi you're right. It has nothing to do with Megan Fox, which actually speaks volumes about how bad this movie probably is. I'll check it out as a matinee. I like Brolin and westerns.

EagleManiac 6/18/2010 6:23:53 AM

Meh, I'll pass on this one. No thanks.

BobaMig 6/18/2010 6:48:41 AM

THey didn't even seem to get the origin right.  Also, he talks to the dead?!?!?!?  I love the PC script change of making him a union soldier instead of a confederate.  I had high hopes for this movie until I saw the trailer.  I can't say this review really suprises me. 

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