Jonah Hex (2010)

Rating: **
Release Date: 6/18/10
Cast: Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Aidan Quinn

"Jonah Hex" takes me back to the 80's and early 90's, before people started taking comic books seriously and any attempts at the genre were generally silly and dumb. In addition to being silly and dumb, "Jonah Hex" is also very loud and noisy. You know you're in trouble when the soundtrack for a Civil War period piece is performed by Mastodon. Having only read a handful of Jonah Hex comic books, I had no expectations going into the film and I don't have a clue how faithful the adaptation is. I'm guessing it's about as sloppy as the rest of the execution.

Jonah Hex (a grizzled Josh Brolin) was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War who disobeyed orders from his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (a dazed John Malkovich). As a result, Turnbull tortured him, slaughtered his family, and left him to die. But as luck would have it, Jonah was rescued by an Indian witch doctor who brought him back to the land of the living, but with a curse of being able to talk to the dead. Believing that Turnbull is dead, Jonah focuses his thirst for revenge on being a bounty hunter, drifting from town to town punishing evil doers. However, Turnbull is alive and well, and constructing a doomsday weapon for destroying President Grant's precious United States. When Hex finds out, he goes after the bastard with all guns blazing. Ho hum.

The film is attractive and colorful, but the narrative and structure are shaky. Josh Brolin does an excellent job as Jonah Hex, and wears a convincingly uncomfortable prosthetic for Hex's mutilated face. I'm sure that was a joy to work with. I realize it's nit picking, but I really would have liked to see him wearing a milky eye contact lens to complete the look. John Malkovich sleepwalks through his role and is one of the most lifeless and uninteresting villains I've ever seen. And once again, Megan Fox is given a thankless role that offers her no opportunity to prove that she's more than a stupid bimbo. Is she really a terrible actress, or does she just have nothing to work with? I can't tell, but she does have a couple of (very) brief flashes of inspiration while holding a gun. The film is also notable for one of the most gratuitous credits I've seen: "Underwater Director Of Photography." There was one - EXACTLY ONE - underwater shot in the film, but by gosh he's going to get credit for it! Perhaps there will be a lot more underwater footage in the director's cut... Overall, it's about as ludicrous and mind-numbing as "Wild Wild West" (1999), only darker and edgier.