In Jonah Hex, Josh Brolin creates one of the most memorable and entertaining on screen heroes since Hellboy. And then heís wasted on a movie which doesnít seem to know what itís doing, where itís going, or why anyone bothered to make it in the first place.
Itís not a problem at first, because it takes a few minutes before the movie bothers to attempt some sort of plot. Jonah Hex appears on screen, a permanently disfigured cowboy with a vicious growl, and a sarcastic sense of humor. Brolinís Hex is immediately engaging, and even though heís only able to actually move half his face, itís easy to see what heís all about. To get things moving Jonah kicks some meaningless ass, and that seems pretty cool. Then thereís a bad guy, played by John Malkovich, who wants to destroy America on its hundredth birthday using some sort of impractical super weapon invented by that evil genius Eli Whitney. Its inner workings look more like the imaginings of Rube Goldberg to me.
Weíre supposed to be interested in John Malkovichís villain character, whose name I refuse to learn, because he has a history with Hex. The movie shows us that history, and then shows it to us again. And then it shows us to it again. And then later we see it another time. And maybe a couple more times too, for reasons which can only be described as ďfillerĒ. Jonah Hex is only around seventy minutes long (the press notes claim 80 minutes, don't believe it), barely enough to fill the required running time of an after school special. Subtract all the replays of Jonahís past, remove all the random and meaningless footage of Jonah standing in an imaginary desert, and I doubt the film would even crack an hour. Itís a blessing really, since even that seventy minutes feels like two years.
Itís obvious that this is a movie with problems, problems which someone tried to fix by chopping it up with a carpet knife and then sticking it back together with painterís tape. Itís all a question of making choices, and whoever edited Jonah Hex makes all the wrong ones. For instance a potentially wrenching scene in which Hex decides to permanently scar himself rather than allow his enemy the satisfaction of marking him, is glossed over, rushed, and mostly ignored while instead the movie replays meaningless moments weíve already watched for no particular reason.
Itís not all editing though; the script was probably always kind of a mess. Super weapons are almost never a good story decision and this oneís dumber than most. Jonah Hexís dialogue is clever and thanks to Brolin perfectly delivered, but no one else in the movie ever says anything worth hearing. Some of itís bad writing, some of itís both bad writing and bad acting, as in the case of Megan Fox. Luckily Megan Fox is barely in the movie, unfortunately barely in the movie is too much. Itís not really because sheís bad, itís more that thereís no reason for her character to be in the film. Itís as if someone wrote the script, noticed they forgot to include a part for a woman, and so another writer was brought in to randomly toss in some hooker to show up once or twice to add boobs. At least sheís not playing a boxing leprechaun. Michael Fassbender, for some reason, is.
Yet for all itís fatal flaws itís hard to hate Jonah Hex. Josh Brolinís too good, his scarred and frequently witty character far too engaging. Itís just that no one bothered to write him a movie. Instead heís stuck wandering around in this thing, with nowhere to go, no one of consequence to kill, and without an adventure worthy of his considerable talents. Jonah Hex would hate this movie. He would make fun of this movie. If this movie isnít good enough for its lead character, itís probably not good enough for you too.
Reviewed By: Josh Tyler