Quickly slated and dismissed by the majority of moviegoers when it was released, Jonah Hex turns out to be a surprisingly enjoyable movie based around a lesser-known comic book character. Mixing some supernatural elements (e.g. the central character can talk to the dead whenever he takes hold of them) with some staples of the Western genre and a bit of steampunk pepping up the style and design of the big finale, the movie fairly rattles through its brief runtime and provides decent entertainment for those seeking it.
Josh Brolin plays the central character, a disfigured and cynical character who really should have been dead well before the main event begins, and the big baddie, Turnbull, is played by John Malkovich (doing a very good job). Hex wants revenge after Turnbull took away everything he loved and then left him with his pretty face but Turnbull, damn him, went and died before Hex could get his hands on him. Good things come to those who wait, however, and Hex soon finds out that he may yet have a way to get his revenge. Of course, they say that a man seeking revenge should dig two graves.
Directed by Jimmy Hayward, and written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Jonah Hex is a brisk and stylish bit of fun. It’s not a movie likely to be remembered with fondness many years from now (okay, so it wasn’t really given any fondness when it was released anyway) but it’s worth a watch/rental if you can’t think of anything else to try and you like the cast.
Speaking of the cast, this has a pretty good line-up for such preposterous material. Brolin is excellent in the lead role and John Malkovich is as good as ever but I’d even say that Megan Fox was very good in her role (the standard Western “working gal”) and Michael Fassbender gets to let loose and have fun, something which he should maybe do more. Will Arnett, Wes Bentley, Aidan Quinn and Jeffrey Dean Morgan don’t have much screentime but also do just fine.
I’m not familiar with the source material but the design and style of the movie often works to remind viewers that this character comes from a comic book. There are some nicely composed shots and some great use of colour and animation here and there to cover some ideas and backstory. There are also some design and FX moments that just don’t work (most notably, a scene in which Jonah Hex is struggling to come back from near death) and those mis-steps, along with the paper-thin feel of the whole plot that makes it feel more like an extended TV pilot than a theatrical movie, work to detract value from the whole thing.
You won’t be missing anything unmissable if you listen to everyone who has written this film off as something completely awful. You can easily choose to never watch the thing and your life will never feel incomplete. Alternatively, you could always just give it a watch and see if you end up enjoying it. You just might.
DIRECTOR: JIMMY HAYWARD
WRITER: MARK NEVELDINE, BRIAN TAYLOR
STARS: JOSH BROLIN, JOHN MALKOVICH, MEGAN FOX, MICHAEL FASSBENDER, WILL ARNETT, WES BENTLEY, AIDAN QUINN, JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN
RUNTIME: 81 MINS APPROX