The ludicrously short run time of only eighty minutes is just about the only thing the painfully dull film, Jonah Hex, has going for it. The screenplay written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the men behind the beautifully nihilistic Crank series, shows little of the two’s penchant for the absurd, and hews pretty close, if not on the downward slope, of the middle of the road. There are a lot of gunshots, a plethora of explosions, and just about as many B and C list actors, but is short on all else, especially entertainment.
Josh Brolin plays the titular character, snarling through some gruesome burn prosthetics, but serving up very little in the way of character development. Hex is on a revenge quest to kill his former Confederate Army commanding officer Quinton Trumbull (John Malkovich) for murdering his family. During that incident, of which we are treated to numerous, some might say redundant, flashbacks, Trumbull brands Hex’s face, and leaves him for dead.
Told through some uninspired comic book style animation we find out that Hex was nursed back to health by a tribe of Native Americans, and is endued with the power to converse with dead people. He’s like a Civil War-era Haley Joel Osment. After being conscripted to hunt Trumbull by order of President Ulysses S. Grant (Aidan Quinn), Hex uses his gifts to track his prey.
The only light in Hex’s life is Lilah, the prostitute with a heart of gold. Lilah is played by sex bomb Megan Fox whose acting skills are about as slim as her waist, as such was seemingly hired for her many other attributes. No matter her looks director Jimmy Hayward and Cinematographer Mitchell Amundsen digitally airbrush Ms. Fox’s close-ups in such a distracting way it is possible that her beauty isn’t even skin deep.
No one in the picture is believable; from Michael Fassbender as Trumbull’s henchman, Burke, who sports the face tattoos of a Maori warrior, to Will Arnett as Lieutenant Grass, an Army Brass who comes in and out of the picture faster than you can say “Cutting room floor.” Wes Bentley plays a plantation owner who helps Trumbull, whose accent is about as phony as his mutton-chops. Jeffery Dean Morgan, Michael Shannon, and Tom Wopat are all on screen for about a blink of an eye each, not really in cameos per se, but rather just distractingly over cast bit parts. The lone African American in the movie, Lance Reddick, plays the creatively named Smith, a gun smith and friend to Hex, but it is obvious he is only in the picture to prove that the former Confederate was not a racist slave owner, but only supported the South because he was some kind of proto-Libertarian. Forget the Haley Joel Osment thing, he’s like a Civil War Ralph Nader.
Nothing much really happens in the eighty minutes other than booms, bangs, and flames, and none of them are all that fun. The film is so straight-forward that it should have been an arrow pointed right at the heart of the “bad idea” department. Having been a recognizable face since 1986’s The Goonies, Brolin will probably weather the storm, but Megan Fox tacks on another bomb onto a long string of box office flops. With her ejection from the Transformers franchise it may be time to say good-bye to the pretty little gaffe machine. I wonder if Jonah Hex can commune with her career?
El Luchador Rating: 1 out of 5
Review By: Paul S. Myers (a.k.a. El Luchador)