Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) served his country as a US soldier, but didn’t follow a direct order when it went against everything he stood for. His choice caused the death of his best friend Jeb Turnbull (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), which would eventually lead to Jeb’s father Quentin (John Malkovich) to take Jonah’s family away from him; an eye for an eye. Quentin made it a point to scar Jonah so he would never forget what happened that night. After a man stares death in the face and is able to survive, he may find himself capable of doing things he wasn’t able to before. Jonah Hex is such a man. As he roams the earth as a bounty hunter with nothing to lose, Jonah Hex will stop at nothing to get revenge for his family even if that means putting his own life at risk along the way.
The trailers for Jonah Hex gave off a big Desperado-like impression to me, so that’s about the bar where I set my expectations going into this film. The action scenes would be heavy, the story would be light, and the cast would be decent other than the lead who would probably wind up stealing the show. Those were my initial thoughts based on the trailers and TV spots. More or less, that’s exactly what the film delivered.
Remember how people always seem to make jokes that they lose interest in a movie if something isn’t blown up in the first five minutes of whatever they’re watching? Well, if that’s true, those people won’t have any problems with the opening of Jonah Hex. There are two huge explosions, a shootout, and a robbery in the first fifteen minutes of the film. Not to mention the fact that the film is beyond loud. With all of the explosions, fires, shootouts, fistfights, and yelling going on in the film, there isn’t really a single moment in the film’s entire duration where the floor isn’t rumbling or your chair isn’t shaking from the intense action taking place on screen.
While Josh Brolin does a decent job of bringing the Jonah Hex character to life, he seems a bit flat at times. Before I go any further, let me be the first to point out that I didn’t read the Jonah Hex comics. So this is purely from a moviegoer’s standpoint. Jonah Hex is so focused on getting revenge for his family that he’s really kind of boring other than the occasional wise remark every so often. He can apparently talk to dead people, which is kind of interesting. But animals tend to have a thing for him, too; horses, dogs, a huge murder of crows. Did anyone else find it humorous that every time Hex left a location, it was either burning, exploding, or a combination of both?
Megan Fox brings mostly eye candy to her role as a promiscuous woman who has a soft spot for Jonah Hex and has a decent action scene towards the end of the film, but adds little to her repertoire as far as acting goes. The supporting cast of actors alone should have sold this movie. John Malkovich as the main villain supports that theory, but his character is also pretty dull. He lost the thing he loved most in this world thanks to Jonah Hex and the military, so he’s decided to kill innocent bystanders and destroy the United States. That’s about as deep as his character gets. Small parts were given to actors that probably should have been around longer than they were. Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) is around long enough for you to notice he’s in a serious role, Wes Bentley (American Beauty) has a similar role that buckles under the intimidation of Malkovich’s Quentin Turnbull, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen) has a five minute scene that kind of makes you wonder why he took the part to begin with. Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) was pretty enjoyable as Burke though. He seems to make the most out of his short time on screen.
The film has quite a few drawbacks. The main one being that it’s incredibly short. It isn’t even an hour and a half long. So everything moves along at a rushed pace. The animated opening felt out of place, as well. A live-action adaptation shouldn’t really try to make a point to rub the audience’s nose in the fact that it’s based on a comic book. Be an all around good film first and a homage to your source material second. The animation seemed kind of sloppy, as well. In a time where 3D technology is at its peak and Studio Ghibli and Disney are still producing top of the line hand drawn animated films, it’s difficult not to notice when something like that isn’t up to par. Maybe it’s just the anime fan in me, but did the orange detonation balls in the film remind anyone else of the dragonballs from “Dragonball Z”?
Jonah Hex is incredibly flawed and the film seems to try and make a point to showoff its weak points more than anything, but it’s short enough that it doesn’t seem like torture and tries to be as explosively entertaining as it can during that runtime. If Desperado and Van Helsing could somehow meet, spend a romantic evening together, and mate that resulted in offspring in the form of film, Jonah Hex would be their love child.
Theatrical Release Date: June 18, 2010
Director: Jimmy Hayward
Genre: action, thriller, western
Runtime: 80 min
Cast: Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex
John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull
Megan Fox as Lilah
Michael Fassbender as Burke
Will Arnett as Lieutenant Grass
Wes Bentley as Adleman Lusk
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Jeb Turnbull
MPAA: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images, and sexual content.
Overall Rating: 6/10
The article on the Edwards Marq*E IMAX theater where I saw the film can be read right here.
Local theaters and showtimes can be viewed below.
Sources: imdb.com, comingsoon.net, youtube.com, 411mania.com