I will start my review by stating the most obvious point: this film is only 80 minutes long. At only 1 hour and 20 minutes, everything in the film was rushed and nothing delved into deeper because of a lack of time. Due to that fact, I’ll try to make sure my review does not take longer to read than the film took to watch.
The Comic: Jonah Hex first appeared in DC comics in 1971 and he got his own self-titled comic book in 1977. He has been appearing on and off since then and currently has a comic series.
Jonah Hex has traveled to the future, died and come back as a zombie in the Black Lantern Corps, had many girlfriends/wives, and done many other things. He has always remained somewhat of an outlaw, had the ability to get off any shot and is always looking for revenge or to punish the wicked and unjust. Jonah Hex has popped up from time to time in DC animated shows for guest appearances, but has never had his own show.
The Film: “Jonah Hex” opens with a pretty stereotypical battle montage, and at first glance, it could seem like a period piece. Within minutes, you have Hex (played by Josh Brolin) tied to a sideways cross, being punished and forced to watch the massacre of his wife and son because he betrayed the group of renegades, headed up by Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). Hex turned them in when he refused to go along with the slaughtering of innocent women and children. Another foundation of Turnbull’s malevolence towards Hex is his retribution for Hex being responsible for his only son’s death. Jonah Hex is then branded on the face and left for dead. Thankfully, he is found and nursed back to health, but he comes back a little bit more than human (to avoid spoilers I won’t really delve into that further).
Jonah Hex then decided to do what he does best, find bad guys and kill them so he becomes a bounty hunter, along the way trying to find and seek revenge on Turnbull, but after Turnbull is said to have committed suicide, Hex then commits his life to bounty hunting. Hex himself becomes an outlaw and has a reward on his head. Somewhere in between all of this we are introduced to Lilah (Megan Fox), a tough prostitute who has a soft spot for Hex and dreams of getting away with him someday, but Jonah won’t have that, since everyone he ever gets close to seems to wind up dead.
Surprise! Surprise! Not only is Quentin Turnbull not dead, but he’s planning one of the largest massacres in U.S. history by building a device that can annihilate whole cities and is going to use it on America. Well, the president of the United States hears about this he tells his best men to find Jonah Hex, because he is the only one that has even came close to getting Turnbull. The entire third act is mostly action and more killing as Hex tries to figure out a way to finally stop this maniac once and for all.
This movie is like a one-note perfume, it starts to draw you in and you are waiting for more levels to it, but they never come. The rushed pace that director Jimmy Hayward (“Horton Hears a Who!”) sets is exciting at times and the action and explosions are nice, but you want them to delve deeper into the characters and plots, and sadly they don’t. One of the most revealing parts of the film is a two-minute cartoon sequence that’s made to look like an animated comic book. It tells a quick back-story of the characters but ends abruptly and sends you right back into the movie.
John Malkovich portrays a good “bad guy” but he just kills everyone without a second thought, and Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex is just a brooding anti-hero who is monotone in his emotions the entire film, he has one face… and that face is revenge. You want to root for Hex but it’s hard to when you feel like you don’t even know the character. Brolin’s portrayal of Hex just kept reminding me of “The Punisher” and his whole defend the innocent and punish the wicked, but even he had a range of emotions that he showed, including mercy. Megan Fox as the sultry and headstrong prostitute is a bit more than just eye-candy. Fox herself said in an interview with “MTV” that her role was “more of a cameo then starring role…and that she just filmed her scenes for five days.” So having read that, I didn’t expect to see a lot of her or her acting chops, but she did well with the little screen time she had, and she handled the pistols and weapons very well.
There are a plethora of supporting cast members who get little to barely any screen time, including Will Arnett, Wes Bentley, Michael Fassbender, Sean Boyd and John Gallgher Jr. I would have love to have seen more of these secondary characters and have gotten more intertwining storylines, instead of just all shooting and chase scenes. This film is trying to take a classic western and turn it on its head and re-invent it with an attempt to make a new genre Cowboy/Sci-Fi, but it fails. Although this movie is fun at times, the fun times pass by so quickly it’s almost hard to recognize them. If a film with a good plot and substance is what you are craving, skip “Jonah Hex.”
Running time: 80 minutes. Rated PG-13 for: intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexuality
. . .
Follow Adam Poynter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CCWGGuy.