I probably will be joining the ranks of movie reviewers not praising the film Jonah Hex. I watched Jonah Hex over its opening weekend with a decent crowd of folks. However, what I found did not live up to the DC comic, as I know it, nor the trailers as portrayed the film. Jonah Hex stars Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men) and Megan Fox (Jennifer’s Body) as Lilah, two losers in the post-Civil War era.
Told in comic book recreations inter cut with action footage, Jonah is a soldier in the Confederate Army. The film depicts the raids on civilians that Hex’s commander, Col. Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich) ordered and carried out by his son Jeb and Hex. The battle scenes ensue to the soundtrack of Steven Foster’s Civil War ditties in the background. Not wanting to continue the slaughter, Jonah Hex turns traitor and betrays his best friend Jeb, shooting him. In retaliation, Turnbull captures Hex and forces Jonah to watch his family burn to death as his Irish henchmen sets the family’s cabin on fire. Left to die suspended on the cross, The Crow Indians (his wife’s tribe), nurse Jonah back to health and although he is mortal, he can to talk to the dead. In the meantime, his arch-nemesis, Quentin Turnbull has apparently died in a fire and about 10 years go by. There you go…. Back-story done.
The time is 1876, and Grant (Aidan Quinn) is in his last year of office. News of Turnbull being alive and Grant, the President, with perhaps the most corrupt administrators around, tells his Army staff officer that the only man for the job is Jonah Hex. Hex who is now a bounty hunter, and who shifts from one side of the law to the other. Most popular lawmen of the time had criminal records. President Grant has a lot to fear from Turnbull; as it was under Grant’s orders that the Union Army turned to the tactic of total war. Total war is a concept of eliminating your enemies, including civilians and civilian’s homes. General Grant ordered General Sherman to march to the sea and he burned a trail all the way to Atlanta. So, if Turnbull has a grudge, it is a sizeable grudge. Like the Will Smith film The Wild Wild West, also set in the same era of Grant’s presidency, a Jules Verne-ish weapon of mass destruction is about to let loose on Washington D.C. Jonah and his prostitute friend Lilah, a nickname for Tallulah and Hex must stop Turnbull and his men. Jonah gets his ass kicked throughout this film, which makes him human and not a superhero-playing cowboy. However, due to being between the living and the dead, like the Crow (pun intended) Jonah can talk to the dead, if he can extract enough information before he microwaves them.
The unfortunate situation for Brolin in his characterization of Jonah Hex is the makeup effects on the right side of his face. Turnbull branded him there, however, in trying to remove the QT brand, Hex made it worse by opening a hole in the side of his mouth. A whole, which also limits Brolin’s ability to speak, enunciate, and emote effectively, leaving his character somewhat flat and stiff. Megan Fox, on the other hand, just oozes sex appeal. That’s it, just oozes sex appeal. Without the charm Jodie Foster had in 1994’s Maverick with Mel Gibson, Fox plays it totally for the sex. John Malkovich does well as the evil Colonel Turnbull; however, I had seen Malkovich, turn up the evilness before, and wish he had done here. The Neveldine & Taylor (Gamer & Crank) story and the screenplay are straightforward and to be honest, considering the material; I would have liked to see Neveldine & Taylor direct this film. My apologies to director Jimmy Hayward of Toy Story 2 fame, however, I hear Buzz, Woody, and Horton calling you home. What I did like about Jonah Hex was the music. Composer Marco Beltrami did a fantastic job interweaving Stephan Foster scores with the hard and driving guitars of Mastodon. Mastodon and Beltrami provided just the right touch to move the film along. The film is not boring as the pacing keeps the story moving, quickly toward the end. At the end, you say to yourself, “Gee, I should have just waited and rented the DVD.”