Jonah Hex (2010)
So much promise...but it fails tragically
"Jonah Hex" is quite possibly one of the most disappointing superhero films that I've ever seen. For those who probably read my brief mini series, "Super Heroes Assemble", you'll know that I had very high expectations of "Jonah Hex." Sure, he's not a big name character like "Superman", "Batman" or "Wonder Woman", but his broad appeal is the key thing that I thought for sure that would translate onto film. Boy was I ever wrong.
For those unfamiliar with the character, "Jonah Hex" is essentially a Confederate soldier, during the Civil War, who unlike his comrades didn't endorse the use of slavery. Rather than he was fighting against a hypocritical Union government, that he believed was oppressing the good people of the South. Unfortunately, it seems the Confederate Army that he was fighting for didn't exactly use proper methods of combat. During the Civil War, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) was led to believe that his troops would be ordered to attack and fight with Union soldiers and strategic base locations. However, what he didn't bank on was the prospect that his own general, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), would not only order them to destroy other Union strategic military defenses but Northern hospitals as well. Jonah didn't approve of innocent civilians getting hurt, so he refused to part take in any of it. Needless to say, Quentin didn't take it lightly when Jonah rebelled against the Confederacy and betrayed his own troops, by killing them before they could destroy the Union hospitals. Thus after the Civil War, Quentin and his men not only savagely murdered Jonah's family in front of him, they essentially mutilated him and left him for dead.
On the verge of dying though, a strange eerie thing happened. Jonah was miraculously brought back to life by Native American shamans. Now caught in the world of the living, as he's apparently not quite alive but he's not dead either. I guess you could say Jonah is a zombie, without the need to devour brains of course. He even has these unique supernatural powers that allows him to communicate with the dead. Jonah seeks revenge against those that wronged him, but he's led to believe that Turnbull died in a fire allegedly. Therefore, Jonah lives a meaningless life being a professional bounty hunter, with no emotional attachments to anyone since his family died. Living a sad and lonely life, as the only person that he cares about anymore is Lilah (Megan Fox), who works as the town prostitute in the brothel house. (No, Megan Fox doesn't have a nude scene in this if that's what your thinking, since she's working in a brothel house. Pervs.) However, all that changes though once Jonah learns that Turnbull is alive, and it's up to him to stop him before he can destroy all of mankind with his latest weapon.
When I first heard Warner Bros. say they were making a film about this character, I was a bit excited about it. Not because I was a fan of the character, as I never read a single issue of Jonah Hex. However, I was familiar with his history and mythology fairly well, as it incorporates western themes with the realm of fantasy. Something that we haven't seen before in a movie up until now. Hence, why I thought this film had a lot of potential going for it. Sure, we've seen other westerns incorporate the superhero aspect to a film with the various "Zorro" movies, in the past. As well as science-fiction with films like "Wild Wild West", and next year's "Cowboys & Aliens." However, we've never seen a fantasy based western before, and that was something that would've been highly unique. Sadly, "Jonah Hex" falls tragically short of what it could've and should've been....
Suffering from various pacing issues, as the movie is literally about seventy minutes long. Quite frankly that doesn't allow the viewer anytime to become familiar with Jonah's plight outside of the first few minutes of the film, where his origin is explained. Which is sad, as there seems there was a lot of good concepts in there that could've been expanded on. Such concepts like the love affair between Jonah and Lilah. Both people who are stuck in a situation to where they can't live normal lives, but they're in love with each other. However, in the film, Jonah and Lilah are barely in a few scenes together, but we're supposed to buy into the concept of that they love each other, as Turnbull does kidnap her to get to Jonah. Something that doesn't quite carry the same emotional impact, as very little screen time is used to develop their love affair.
Then we get to Jonah's supernatural powers. Another thing that never gets fully explained nor does it take our hero that much time to learn how to master these said abilities, as he does so quite easily. Don't get me wrong, I understand Warner Bros. probably wanted to keep Jonah Hex's origin a bit of a mystery to enhance the fantasy element of his character. However, even a freaking narration with a voice say something along the lines of..."when he came back from the dead... he brought a little bit back with him." Even some lame narration like that would've been sufficient enough to explain Jonah's bizarre powers. Yet it never does. No, "Jonah Hex" just rushes through origin story and expects the audience to just easily buy into it with no other reason than it's a freaking movie. Get over it, and just accept it. That's it. Gee, it kind of makes me wonder if the writers even read their own script, as they could have made this into another epic franchise for D.C.
Another thing that might bother fans is the high tech weaponry that Jonah uses in this film, despite the westernize time frame. Although in the comics, it was natural for Jonah to use such high tech weaponry like a machine gun, in the old west. However, it never gets explained where he got the technology, in the movie. Sure, there's a young black guy that sells him the weapon, but where did he get it? Did African Americans own any businesses back then? Wasn't society still racist back then, so a black gun shop owner selling high tech weaponry might be a bit far fetched, don't you think? I would think so, but I guess Jimmy Hayward and his team of writers didn't think so. As again like Jonah's powers, you're just supposed to buy into it and accept it. No explanation necessary, as it's a freaking movie. You watch and just accept that reality with no justification at all. Gee, at least other fantasy films like "Sorcerer's Apprentice" gave us logical reasons to accept why magic could exist within our conventional world, so we could temporarily suspend our disbelieves in the good name of cinematic fun. Where as this film, it's either you accept it or just don't watch. What a great message to send to your audience. By the way, I was being sarcastic for those that couldn't tell.
Even the dramatic final fight scene had almost no meaning, as it had so much build up to it. I mean here was the guy that royally screwed over Jonah's life, as constant flashbacks of him haunt our hero's mind throughout the entire movie. Thus, you'd almost expect a great climax at the end but surprise surprise..it doesn't happen. Instead, we're treated to a rush mediocre ending that makes absolutely no sense and comes off generically cliched as hell. However, even though I've been bashing this film for quite a bit, there was some good things about it though worth noting.
I thought Josh Brolin played an excellent Jonah Hex. Probably way better than anyone could've asked for. Plus, John Malkovich, who seems to be the most under used actor in Hollywood these days, plays such a natural and convincing villain that he plays off Brolin perfectly. In fact, it so much of a shame they both had to work with a mediocre rushed script. As thought they pretty much carried this movie. Sadly, it wasn't enough to redeem it completely though.
"Jonah Hex" was a film I wanted to like so much. It had all the elements of a great story, but it fails tragically on execution. Overall, I'd give this film a one out of four. Josh Brolin and John Malkovich alone were the reason why this film was anywhere decent, as the rest of the film...royally stinks.