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Review: Jonah Hex

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where did the trouble begin for the Jonah Hex movie? Was it the long, meandering road it took through development hell? Was it the rush to get the movie greenlighted after Josh Brolin agreed to headline it? Was it when Warner Bros. decided that it needed a summer comic book movie in its summer 2010 slot? Or maybe it began when director Jimmy Hayward realized that he was in over his head?

We know for a fact that Hayward's production was in such need of help that the studio called in I Am Legend's Francis Lawrence to film reshoots, but even that work can't save the final product from coming out wrong. Somewhere under its creative mess Jonah Hex is a Blade type of movie wanting to emerge but it never happens. Instead we get a meandering mess that intensifies in its ineptitude the further we go along for the ride.

As Hex, Brolin manages most of the time to give his heavily scarred Civil War veteran a steady presence. When Hex has to be violent and cool, the actor shows that he has a good idea for what turns in the mind of Jonah. Unfortunately, the movie isn't able to live up to all of the cool possibilities that a Jonah Hex adventure could have, showcasing the bad-ass-ery that the character could bring to a movie set in the old west. What Jonah Hex doesn't need is a Q-like weaponsmith that gives him gatling guns mounted on the side of his horse, or multiple flashbacks showing us the same violent life-changing moment that turned Hex from a family man to a cursed bounty hunter. This guy should be like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name except with a supernatural element that's more spooky and less superhero-ish.

For all of her corseted glory, Megan Fox is in Jonah Hex for maybe 15 minutes tops. Her character is essentially useless to the movie's story, eye candy only. It's actually quite fascinating how little of Fox is in the film considering how heavy she is in the marketing of it. Her character is flat and dimensionless, which is also pretty much what you can say of John Malkovich here, playing the movie's main villain. As Quentin Turnbull, you don't get any explanation why he wants to topple the U.S. government, or why doing it on the country's centennial Fourth of July is important (besides the obvious irony, I suppose.) The only other semi-important performance that brings charisma to the situation is Michael Fassbender's Burke, the Irish right-hand man to Malkovich's Turnbull. At least he's able to deliver a villainous performance that goes a little beyond being an end-level character from a second-rate video game. The Losers' Jeffrey Dean Morgan has an uncredited cameo in it as Malkovich's dead son, but it's a brief-but-fleeting moment of interest in an otherwise flatlined adventure.

The film's troubles are also evident in the use of too much voiceover. It comes at the start of the film and continues on at spots throughout. Scenes like Aidan Quinn's first appearance as President Grant come across as expository and soulless, put there to merely shuffle the plot ahead two minutes. Wes Bentley, once opening his own movies (hey, even if they were awful movies, at least he headlined them), is in here in just two scenes, playing a rich southern man that is completely pointless and doesn't do a damn thing to advance anything in the movie. Most of what happens in Jonah Hex feels lightweight like this, like it could have easily been cut from the final cut and not made a damn bit of difference. For a film that's only 87 minutes long -- and that's credits included! -- that's a frightening thing to realize.

Maybe it was too much to ask the director to pull off. Hayward comes with an excellent track record but it's with CG toons like Horton Hears a Who. The pacing of Jonah Hex feels cut-and-paste, like it was manufactured in the editing room by committee (and maybe it was at that.) Perhaps if Hayward had made Jonah Hex as a CG creation iwould have at least had some zip to it instead of being a fizzled live-action misfire. Or maybe if he had the same power to resurrect the dead that Jonah has, the director could have laid his hands on his movie and brought it to life, at least for a scene or two.

On a strangely surreal note, beyond recognizing the backlot of Warner Bros. twice during the movie, the irony of seeing The Dukes of Hazzard's Tom Wopat (Luke Duke!) is in this flick and the same trees and roadway that the General Lee used to wheel around during his series' end credits was kinda meta-strange, for a moment. And then it passed, much like my memory of this movie will in a day or two.

Review Score: 30 / 100

Daltons chin dimple
Location:
Posts: 12800
Posted: 9 years 4 weeks ago

So avoid at all costs?  Not even a rental??

....says "Kill Bond, NOW!"
Jakester
Location:
Posts: 5753
Posted: 9 years 4 weeks ago

Do you enjoy watching a train wreck?

Shame, really, because a Jonah Hex movie could have been good.

Richard Gozinya, Harold Snatch and Wilbur Jizz. Together we are the law firm Gozinya, Snatch and Jizz.
Patrick Sauriol
Location: Canada
Posts: 20119
Posted: 9 years 4 weeks ago

It's a rental if you're a fan of the comic character or have a desire to see Megan Fox in her undergarments. Otherwise, stay away and watch BLADE again.

No matter where you go, there you are.
Quasar
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Posts: 7588
Posted: 9 years 4 weeks ago

Megan Fox should've had the line "Try wearing a corset!"

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline
atrejub
Location:
Posts: 739
Posted: 9 years 4 weeks ago

Even with all of its faults, it was still much better - and far more entertaining - than Sex and the City 2.

Quasar
Location:
Posts: 7588
Posted: 9 years 3 weeks ago

Sex and the City 2 was amazing. All 4 of the girls and 2 of the guys have come on Regis and Kelly and said so.

Faster and faster, a nightmare we ride. Who'll take the reins when the miracle dies? Faster and faster till everything dies. Killing is our way of keeping alive. - Virgin Steele, Blood and Gasoline