Review: Jonah Hex
PLOT: Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a scarred vigilante in the old West. A former Confederate soldier, he betrayed his best friend to save his honor. His friend's father, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) hunts him down, murders his wife and son and brands his face. After being that close to death, Hex gains the power to talk to the dead. After finding out his old enemy is still alive, Hex sets off to get revenge. And when Turnbull threatens Washington DC with a super weapon and kidnaps Hex's lady love/whore Lilah, (Megan Fox) he runs in, giant anachronistic guns blazing.
REVIEW: The film is based on a comic book, (That was for those of you who have been living under a rock.) and like many ink-to-screen translations, this one has been suffering a barrage of bad press. Not the least of which was the whole Megan Fox-is-an-ungrateful-bitch extravaganza. But the film is...well, it's fun. It's a popcorn flick. It's exactly what it promises to be.
A film like this is going to be a hard sell to the general public. It's not based on a super-popular comic like SPIDER-MAN. You have to be a hardcore graphic novel fan to really know the story. But if you can accept that this is a Civil War vet with a hole in his face and supernatural powers without laughing your ass off, it's a really enjoyable film. It jumps right into the action with only a tiny voice over (just enough not to annoy me) explaining where we're going. And the opening credits mimic the comic, putting you in the right frame of mind. From there, the entire film rests on the very sexy shoulders of Josh Brolin.
His shoulders are capable as well as sexy. He pulls off the angry bounty hunter beautifully, with a calm demeanor that doesn't seem at all forced. And the angry part may be method acting. I visited the set last year, where I got to chat with Brolin. The makeup, which was phenomenally done, made the poor man drool. He had to put his finger over the hole in his face to smoke. Though he was joking around with myself and my fellow journalists, he told us that he was grouchy on set for the most part. Drooling would make me grouchy too. (By the way, the extras on set were real-life Civil War re-enactors who never broke character or smiled once the whole time we were on set.) Anyway, Brolin takes the role seriously and sweats cool out of every pore. And handles his weapons well. (Sorry. I was looking for an excuse to use that line.)
Malkovich was his usual fantastically weird self. Turnbull doesn't believe he's a bad guy. He truly believes it's his job to take out the North. He believes he has the right to destroy Hex, after his son was killed. Malkovich could have easily played a 'terrorist.' Instead he played a person. Plus, he's got the best 'creepy eye' out there. Will Arnett - yes, the guy from "Arrested Development" - was surprisingly good as a Union officer. It was a small part, and I kept expecting him to crack up, but let's just say I wouldn't be surprised to see him in more dramatic roles. But...Megan Fox. Look, I don't want to jump on the bandwagon here, but not only did she cling desperately to her one note, but her voice never went above a bored monotone. Her scenes seemed to be there as a plot device. Alright, a plot device and to give you boys a chance to ogle her in a very, very tight corset. You could easily have cut her out, rewritten a page or two and never missed her.
Otherwise, the film was pure fun. It's not going to rock your world, but if you're comfortable with the comic style and the super weapons/crazy guns that would have blown the minds of any Civil War soldier, the action will keep you entertained. Plus, the run time was a refreshing 83 minutes, so you won't be crossing your legs, regretting that giant soda by the end. Largely practical effects here, and that definitely adds a point for me. Especially in the makeup area. The ships, Jonah's scars...it all rings truer because they're real. And honestly, I'm a sucker for both Westerns and comic book films, so this one was right up my alley. Hey, the guy has machine guns strapped to his horse. You really can't beat that for awesome.