Like some B-level zombie Clint Eastwood, vengeance-seeking bounty hunter Jonah Hex drags himself through the Old West in search of gun fights and feisty women of ill repute in Jonah Hex, a thoroughly forgettable minor headache of a comic book adaptation.
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is one of those characters who is always, always referred to by first and last name, either to emphasize the singularity of him or to remind us of who the hell he is. We meet him years after the Civil War, years after the time after the Civil War when dastardly villain Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), whose full name is also repeated like a drum beat, burns Jonah Hex’s family alive in retribution for Hex’s part in Turnbull’s son’s death and yada yada “I’ll take everything from you like you took everything for me”… already I’ve lost interest. Jonah, tied to a cross and forced to watch, stays there until he is rescued, nearly lifeless, by a passing Native American tribe and gains vaguely explained supernatural powers that involve speaking with the dead. But before Jonah can hunt down Quentin and kill him, Quentin dies in an animated sequence — though if you’ve seen the trailers then you know he’s not really dead. And then the movie tells us almost immediately he’s not dead.
Just one of many times when the movie feels the result of a few different drafts cut and pasted together without anyone giving the whole schlemiel a read-over.
The above is explained in what is more or less the movie’s introductory exposition. The real action of this story takes place in 1876 and involves:
• Quentin Turnbull attempting to avenge the South and destroy the country via a plot that makes you think “you know, that Wild Wild West movie wasn’t so bad.”
• Jonah Hex chasing him.
• Megan Fox playing prostitute Lilah, who shows up from time to time to show a PG-13 amount of cleavage in her corset.
(Remember Fight Club, when Tyler Durden sliced and re-pasted film strips so that male genitalia would randomly appear in movies? Megan Fox’s role is more or less like that. The movie makers easily could have saved time and money by replacing her role with random screen shots of boobs. It might have actually improved the story. Certainly, it wouldn’t have changed the flow in the movie’s kindergartener’s-collage-style editing.)
Jonah Hex fails in a way different than how, say, Sex and the City 2 failed. That movie stirred up feelings of rage in me. I felt assaulted and angry by the end of it, as if I had been beaten about the head with Manolo Blahniks and racial stereotypes. Jonah Hex doesn’t make you feel that kind of hatred toward it. It doesn’t make you feel anything. It is so no-impact that during the climactic fight scene, it actually has to keep cutting away to an alternate reality, graphic-novel-y version of that fight scene and even that scene is inartfully shot and boring.
Jonah Hex isn’t a horrible movie travesty, it’s just sort of wearying. It’s disappointing to get on yet another amusement park ride advertised as thrilling and action-packed only to find yourself slowly motoring through a stagnant pool. D
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content. Directed by Jimmy Hayward and written by Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor and William Farmer (from DC Comics characters), Jonah Hex is an hour and 21 minutes long and distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.