Jonah Hex - Movie Review
Jonah Hex provides the perfect example of a movie that puts all the best stuff into the theatrical trailer (enough to sucker you in) and that's all you get. The rest is predictable flashy fluff. I was thinking great visuals plus Josh Brolin plus John Malkovich would equal instant success. But there was one factor that I did not include in my equation. That would be writers Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. There are other writers associated with the basic story, but I don't think they share the blame for the short-comings of this movie.
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) fought for the Confederacy before refusing to torch a hospital under the orders of Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). In fact, Hex ends up killing Turnbull's son Jeb (Jeffery Dean Morgan) who intends to carry out the order. In retaliation, Turnbull kills the Hex family but only scars Jonah Hex as a reminder. Now Hex has an axe to grind (or anneal in the fire in order to sear his own face...as the case may be). Hex has turned to bounty hunting and seems to kill just about anybody that crosses his path. He is a sonofabitch, but is supposed to be likeable just the same. After all, he is going to end up saving he Union, right?
There's the girl (Lilah, played by Megan Fox), the reluctant Union Officer (Lt Grass played by Will Arnett) and of course, President Grant (Aidan Quinn). First of all, was every woman during that era a prostitute? I understand they want to make Lilah tough in an attempt to make her character seem gritty and developed, but it is so overused to be laughable. In fact, the cast of characters are a complete mess. It was like the purpose was to create characters that were quirky for no rhyme or reason. And they still end up being flat and predictable. This results in an eclectic array of misfits. It was a ploy to be different without putting in the work to actually develop the characters. It was a cheap shortcut and it showed.
The rest of the writing was equally horrendous. I have seen reruns of Wild, Wild West that had more originality than this film. In fact, it seemed that some of the schemes were taken from that old western serial. The concept of a technologically advanced wild west crept into this film making it even weirder to me. But the worst part had to be the dialogue. The exchanges were weak, predictable and hackneyed. The attempts at creating the "image" for various characters came across as shallow and self-serving. The plot was so weak, they could barely manage to stretch this stinker out to feature film length.
So the bright spot. Yes, there is one. The animation and cinematic quality. Elements of the graphic comic genre were superimposed into the film (okay, that isn't original, but it worked) creating favorable visual appeal. The look of the period, the costumes, the scenery, the background were all carefully constructed. The general look of the film was polished and smooth. With a workable script, this film could have been special. Instead, the hard work that was invested in the visual qualities of this film were wasted on a story that really wasn't worth telling.
Jonah Hex managed to eke out a PG-13 rating in spite of some graphic violence. Shootings were abundant in this film, but maiming also had a prominent place. Death runs a strong undercurrent in this intentionally dark story. Dark can be good when it is done right. This was dark for the sake of being dark. There were adult situations surrounding prostitution that got tense at one point but never resulted in any nudity (heck, that might have even earned this film another half star). The whole prostitution angle was actually unnecessary and did little to advance the story. Overall, the rating is dead on. I would be wary about allowing children under 13 to see this film. Run time is one hour, 21 minutes.
Jonah Hex provided a mind-numbing 80 minute diversion. I spent most of that time wondering if the film was going to get better. That made me all the more disappointed. The film was a waste of time, talent and money. Jonah Hex tried to be dark, unique and graphic. It succeeded in being silly, predictable and tepid. It seemed that the writers tried to take the easy way out, putting a bunch of bells and whistles on a tired old concept. In the famous quote from 2008, it was "lipstick on a pig." I was completely disappointed by this film, which had great actors and had strong visual appeal. Too bad the writers got it wrong. 4.5/10.
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