Starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich, Will Arnett
Written by William Farmer, Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Release: 18 June 2010
Warner Bros., 85 mins., Rated R
Plot: Jonah Hex vows revenge on Quentin Turnbull for murdering his family, and being recruited by the American government to stop him is just a nifty plus.
JONAH HEX is one of three things: 1) a brilliantly timed really super-duper fast action movie that just wants to be a action movie, 2) a film with so many bad scenes that a large majority of shot footage can be found on the cutting room floor, or 3) simply a missed opportunity bad-ish movie that had plenty of good ideas that weren't executed well. Ah hell, I wager it is, in fact, all three. I seriously don't know whether to commend it for its lightning-quick pacing or blast it for laziness and casting John Malkovich.
The movie wasn't screened for critics prior to release, which typically indicates that the studio has the utmost faith in the project [as if]. So is HEX as bad as they feel it is? No, not bad. Not terribly good either. What it has in its favor is most notably Josh Brolin (W.), who perfectly encapsulates Hex. Now, granted, I haven't read a single HEX comic book ever, but Brolin feels like the perfect match for this type of character. Broody, careless, (seemingly) morale-less, and just doesn't give a rats ass about anybody (well, except Megan Fox's character Lilah). Brolin perfectly brings the 'you cross me anyway I don't like, I ain't got no problem cappin' your ass' type of feel to Jonah Hex, and I sure as hell wouldn't want to tick the guy off. Whether it be the one-liners sprinkled throughout the script, the action scenes, or the cries and determined look of revenge, Josh Brolin definitely delivers the goods.
Being a revenge story, I was already pleased with the concept of the film. However, my decision on how it was executed is yet undetermined (as indicated above). As you've no doubt read by now, JONAH HEX is a very, very short movie. It officially started at 3:11 (post-trailers) and ended by 4:26 (during end credits). The film definitely feels like a comic book coming to life, what with its quick prancing from scene to scene and general depth of the script. Perhaps that was their intent, which given the WMD idea proposed in the film I very possibly would believe it, but I kinda would have much rather the filmmakers went the nitty-gritty route. There's the camp of folks who like the tone of the SPIDER-MANs and those who enjoy the Nolan BATMANs; I'm in the Nolan camp. I like my story dark, serious, and complex. That is not JONAH HEX.
In a nutshell, the script and storyline held the possibility for plenty of really engaging ideas to be explored in really cool ways, but the filmmakers just didn't seem interesting pursuing that venue...
Since I can't judge the script properly without knowing if it was made with a serious intent and was misguided or made with a comic book-y feel in mind, I'll move on to the other performances: Megan Fox surprisingly doesn't annoy. Somehow, someway, she comes off like she's giving something akin to a performance. Although, her positive regard in the film could very well be owed to her relatively short time onscreen, about 10 minutes total. She shows up to frak Jonah and then being used for bait. Whatever, she looks hot, and her career probably isn't going to sky rocket after her dismissal from TRANSFORMERS 3. In the most surprisingly appearance in the whole movie, Will Arnett (BLADES OF GLORY) shows up for a couple scenes as some form of military guy. His work is perplexing: he plays it deadly serious, complete with a more darker and stern voice, and I can't help but wonder if by casting Arnett and making him talk like that they're actually 100% saying "it's just a comic book movie". One way or another, it's great to see yah get work, Mr. Arnett.
Now as for John Malkovich, never much liked the guy; never thought he was worth all the hype, performance-wise. And he doesn't disappoint in my presumption here.
Another aspect I didn't much like is the music. Rock band Mastodon unites with the respectable Marco Beltrami (THE HURT LOCKER) to deliver the most annoyingly repetitive junk that disrupts every scene in years. Seriously, the music doesn't match the scene. It just doesn't work, and they missed a real opportunity to make something damn good. Oh well.
In summation, whether or not you like JONAH HEX depends entirely on your taste. As a comic book adaptation trying to be nothing more than a live action comic book, sure, it hits the motions and is a nice short flick to sit through. If you're like me and would have liked something serious and in-depth, you may not be in the 'OMG! I LOVZ it!!!' camp. Miraculously, I'd still recommend it. By no means, if you choose to see it theatrically, should you see it expensively; really cheap with plenty of popcorn, candy, and soda is the way to go.
Taking into account the poor critical response and box office results, a JONAH HEX 2 on the horizon is very much with the doubtful, which is both sad and good simultaneously. The good news is that this film has sparked my interest in the comic series, and I will be making a trip to my nearest bookstore to read through some JONAH HEX graphic novels. So in that regard, good for you Legendary Pictures! And Brolin - you still rock, dude.