Seeing as how short Jonah Hex is (it barely manages to break the 80 minute mark), I'll do my best to keep this review brief and simple. Jonah Hex sucks. That's all you really need to know.
Alright, there are some amusing moments, all of them stemming from Josh Brolin making the best of the sad situation he got himself into. How did that happen, anyway? The man was in an Oscar-winning film just a few short years ago.
I don't care what went wrong on set, the script for Jonah Hex, written by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, the two geniuses who gave us Crank and the much stupider Crank 2, could not have been so good to actually attract such talents as Brolin, John Malkovich or Michael Fassbender. No, it sounds like we have a classic case of paycheck-cashing going on here.
Still, Brolin manages to be entertaining in a film that's so bad it seems to be fast forwarding through itself. After an almost intriguing opening 30 minutes, where we see the story of how Jonah Hex turned coat on the maniacal Confederate General Quentin Turnbull (Malkovich) and in effect got his family burned alive and his face branded by the very man he double-crossed, it's a quick ride downhill to the place where Will Smith's folly Wild Wild West went to die.
The banality of the script is reflected the most in Megan Fox, who surprisingly has less to do in Hex than she did in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which was essentially just to look pretty. Reports of reshoots and extensive recuts suggest that maybe large portions of her performance were excised in order to save the whole thing from sinking. Ouch. No wonder Paramount didn't renew her contract for Transformers 3.
As a result, or perhaps it was never intended to be explained at all, her character Lilah, a sultry 19th century hooker, loves the scarred bounty hunter Hex only because the script says so. There is no rhyme or reason, and no real history to explain the attraction, so I've invented my own excuse: she likes to stick her tongue through his scar hole.
John Malkovich is oddly restrained as Quentin Turnbull- another victim of excessive cuts, or is he just plain bored? I'd think the latter, as Malkovich has been a rather respected and self-aware thespian for decades, and the character's wily look and apparent demeanor should have required something more flamboyant from the man who played Cyrus the Virus in Con Air. This is especially true when you consider just how ridiculous the plot is.
Basically, Turnbull hates now President Ulysses S. Grant and and wants to blow up Washington DC on the 4th of July, 1876 with a giant cannon mounted on an armored boat that looks like the Monitor and the Merrimack. Naturally, unlikely hero Jonah Hex, who can momentarily resurrect the dead, a "kinduva knack I picked up when I near died myself," he claims, must track down Turnbull, prevent the disaster and save America.
Somewhere between here and there, a face-tattooed Michael Fassbender blows up a train. Turnbull blows up an entire town with his super-weapon. There's an acid-spitting snake man. A desert appears on the East coast. Jonah Hex gets horse-mounted dual Gatling guns and one-handed dynamite crossbows. Megan Fox looks sexy. Jonah talks to the dead. Megan Fox looks sexy. Jonah eliminates bad guys with a flame thrower. Getting confusing yet? It all happened so fast I didn't have a chance to knit it all together.
That's what it's like- a patchwork film that's so dismembered and recombined that it pushes the limit of coherence. There are a lot of random cool ideas and a lot of eye candy, but none of it adds up. Sure, the original directors (the aforementioned Neveldine and Taylor) jumped ship and were replaced, hilariously, by the guy who directed Horton Hears a Who, causing a massive upheaval in the production. Well, maybe Neveldine and Taylor aren't as stupid as the script belies, unless it was their idea to have Mastodon score the film. If only Josh Brolin could have jumped off this runaway train before it totally wrecked...
Is it just me or has this been a particularly bad year for movies? Jonah Hex gets 1.5 stars, only because I like Josh Brolin, and can't allow myself to give this mess two stars.