"Jonah Hex" Movie Review (2010)

6/20/2010 Posted by Admin

"Jonah Hex" Movie Review

Directed by Jimmy Hayward, Written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, 85 Minutes, Rated PG-13

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Jonah Hex" is a movie missing every element of what makes a movie. It's a gritty comic book adaptation without the grit. It has characters without character in a story without storytelling. There is no rhyme nor reason to it--it is simply a muddled mess of what might have been a film if any good decisions had been made behind the scenes.

The eponymous hero of the tale, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin), is a former confederate soldier in post-Civil War era America who roams the West as a bounty hunter. He has no true purpose, as the man he seeks to murder, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), who murdered his wife and child and left his face scarred for life, has allegedly died in a fire. Upon a visit to his friend and lover, Lyla (Megan Fox), Hex is recruited by the American military when they discover Turnbull is alive and well, and he faked his death in order to secretly construct a sort of steampunk nuclear device so that he can take out Washington D.C. and begin a new revolution. So, Hex goes on a warpath to kill Turnbull, his psychopathic Irish lackey, Burke (Michael Fassbender), and save a country in which he no longer has faith.

There is so much potential for a great modern Western here. The supernatural stuff combined with the steampunk and alternate-history elements could have made for an interesting take on the genre, but somehow, somewhere, something went horribly, horribly wrong.

To start, the film's plot is simply incomprehensible. I'm not familiar with what went on in the production, but the way it's told, it seems as if the whole thing used to be one film, but was chopped to pieces and became something quite different. Any remnants of true character or plot development are gone, with crucial pieces of the puzzle left to bad dialogue and really poorly implemented narration. Action sequences are jumpy and nearly unwatchable, the setting changes are quick and jarring, and not a moment goes by where you feel as if you're with a likable or relatable (or even human) character.

This kind of incomprehensibly kinetic style is quite typical of the screenwriters Neveldine/Taylor, who have made a name for themselves making equally incomprehensible but at least somewhat stylish and amusing schlock like "Gamer" and "Crank." Much of the poor quality can likely be laid on them, but director Jimmy Hayward, having previousy only worked in animation ("Horton Hears a Who," for example), definitely seems out of place working on a live-action film. There's not an ounce of energy or artistry, or even vague technical ability, on display here.

All storytelling and filmmaking aside, the real unforgivable travesty here is that one of the finest ensembles ever assembled goes entirely to waste.

Some of this generations very best actors--Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, Lance Reddick, Michael Shannon, John Malkovich--they are all misused and tossed around to the point of humiliation. Of the bunch, Fassbender and--shockingly--Megan Fox get the most out of their material, the former because, well, Fassbender is truly a master of his craft and can seemingly get something out of any character, and the latter because not much is required of Fox. Just a revealing outfit and some sassy one-liners.

But Shannon? Brolin? It seems as if the whole cast is on autopilot, some more than others. Malkovich, for example, who plays a Confederate terrorist, a villain that could be totally riveting, pretty much just smirks and stares his way through the whole film. It's difficult to even call what he does here acting. Brolin is generally fine outside of the fact that his character has pretty much nothing to him, but the scar makeup singlehandedly ruins his performance, reducing every one of his lines to an incomprehensible mumble. Shannon, who has given some of the best performances of the past few years and was supposedly brought on to portray a character who would reappear in all the potential sequels, gets a whopping five seconds of screentime. No exaggeration. The film reduces all of these actors to dull cutouts of their ordinary selves.

Generally, nothing goes right here. Everything about the film is a disaster, and it wouldn't be such a shame if so many talented people hadn't been wasted for such a half-assed comic book adaptation. I don't know if suits looking to cut it down to a PG-13 are to blame or what, but something just went very awry.  Whatever the case, "Jonah Hex" stands beside the very worst in modern comic book film adaptations.

Grade: F

View the trailer for "Jonah Hex" below. What are your thoughts?

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  1. SlugBug said...

    What a waste. This could have been a really good movie if it had been made by someone who had a clue.

  2. Hrushi said...

    an F grade means a trash of a movie.... :O

  3. Tom Graczkowski said...

    True that, it showed a lot of promise but then...too bad :(


  4. Anonymous said...

    I loved your blog. Thank you.