Review: Jonah Hex

“Jonah Hex” is a stupid movie. It’s hardly worth reviewing or considering as entertainment for that matter. The role of the film critic is to put every film presented to him or her in a perspective of its merit as a film on its own, as a film in its genre and in its cultural significance. “Jonah Hex” is devoid of merit, it’s a laughable western and will be in the bargain bin at Wal-mart within months after its DVD release.

The semblance of a story revolves around Hex (played by the only person who seems to give a damn in the entire cast, Josh Brolin), a man seeking revenge on the evil mastermind Quentin Turnbull (a half-asleep John Malkovich) for killing his family and scarring his face. After hearing that Turnbull has in fact died in a hotel fire, Hex turns to bounty hunting. However, when President Grant (Aidan Quinn) is informed that a weapon capable of destroying the entire nation has been acquired by the once-thought-to-be-dead Turnbull, Hex is called upon to stop his nefarious foe.

Gee whiz, a pretty simple western story arc – how on earth could they screw it up? A lot of fingers will most likely point to Megan Fox. Those fingers are correct. Fox plays Lilah, a prostitute who has no problems defending herself against vicious customers who want more than what they paid for, but is demure when naked around Hex – the love of her life. Fox is ridiculously cast, and with the likelihood of this film’s lack of box office potential – this could be an early termination of her career. Her lines, delivered by a 3-year-old with Bell’s palsy and a mean case of Tourette’s syndrome would sound eloquent compared to how she just spits ’em out. Fox, just answer Playboy’s calls and do what the world wants you to do.

Brolin is well cast in the role, but the whole film just falls over around him. Minor characters, like Lt. Grass as played by Will Arnett (“Arrested Development”) are laughable. Arnett is a huge comedic talent and watching him attempt dramatics is ridiculous. Michael Fassbender (“Hunger” and “Inglourious Basterds”) at least has some screen presence as Turnbull’s angry Irish cohort but should have passed on this turkey.

There are some interesting aspects of the film, but they are seemingly worthless in the middle of this nonsensical flimflam. Hex has the power to speak to the dead by touching them, and uses this power to interrogate. The CGI is these scenes is actually pretty terrific, but it was probably the bulk of their budget that would have been better served casting better actors – or at least more motivated actors.

The story is not embellished at all. It’s a simple revenge flick that attempts stylistics (in the way of Guy Ritchie or Joe Carnahan) through oddly lit sequences of Hex and Turnbull fighting in front of a single coffin. The scenes are supposed to intrigue, but are merely boring and unnecessary. The director, Jimmy Hayward, has a good track record as an animator for Pixar, but this first time making a live action feature must have been a real challenge. He appears to give up after the first five minutes.

In recent years, the western has tried to make a real comeback with great genre flicks like “3:10 to Yuma” and “No Country For Old Men.” If “Jonah Hex” is any sign of what’s to come, then it’s safe to say that a once revered and truly American style of filmmaking has gone down the toilet.

Grade: D

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