Out of the pages
of the legendary comics and graphic novels steps Jonah Hex
(Josh Brolin), a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last
resort who can track anyone... and anything. Having survived
death, Jonah's violent history is steeped in myth and legend
and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one
on the "other side." His one human connection is
with Lilah (Megan Fox), whose life in a brothel has left her
with scars of her own. But Jonah's past catches up with him
when the U.S. military makes him an offer he can’t refuse:
to wipe out the warrants on his head, he must hunt and stop
dangerous terrorist Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). But
Turnbull, now gathering an army and preparing to unleash Hell,
is also Jonah's oldest enemy and will stop at nothing until
Jonah is dead.
One of the definite shoo-ins for this year’s Razzie Awards- going by the avalanche of bad press around it- is the DC Comics adaptation “Jonah Hex”, the titular character a scarred bounty hunter and avenger for the innocent in a time of lawlessness. The US$47mil summer movie never made it to our shores, but those who are curious to find out just how bad it is can now catch it in all its grisly glory on home video.
“Jonah Hex” is grisly, not because the movie contains a lot of gore, but rather because it is surprising that a movie so dreadful actually got made, especially since it was a project that showed promise. The source character is one Western anti-hero, a surly and cynical lone ranger quick with his guns- even though not as iconic as DC’s Batman or Watchmen, still an interesting one nonetheless. The lead actor is character actor Josh Brolin, a solid actor as evidenced in the Coen brothers films. The scripters are Neveldine/Taylor, whose Crank movies have been hard-hitting, genre-defining action movies.
But still even with that eclectic combination, “Jonah Hex” manages to go quite wrong. You’ll sense something is amiss when director Jimmy Hayward (making his feature film debut after “Horton Hears A Who”) gets Jonah Hex’s origins done and out of the way within the first ten minutes of the movie. Apparently, Jonah’s pissed off his commanding officer Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) during the time of the Civil War so Turnbull ties him up and forces him to watch as his wife and son are burned inside their house, before leaving him to die of thirst.
That brevity doesn’t help an audience who knows little of the character to identify with him at all- and for a movie that’s supposedly built around that character, it surely does not bode well. True enough, despite Josh Brolin’s best effort, there’s little you’ll like or root for Jonah Hex. Ditto for his love interest, Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute who has a thing for Jonah. Besides being Fox-y, Jonah and Lilah are equally dull characters you won’t give a damn about.
Story-wise, Neveldine/Taylor prove to be terrible screenwriters. So straightforward is the story that even at a brief 81 minutes, the movie seems like a drag. Little happens by way of plot development, with what modicum of a story telling of some “superweapon” that Turnbull intends to deploy on the Fourth of July celebrations. Besides the climax, the rest of the time is mere padding to get to the end as Jonah embarks on his quest to stop Turnbull and be the unlikely hero to save the country.
Even as a popcorn action movie, “Jonah Hex” disappoints big-time. Hayward knows little of crafting action sequences, and even with the guns and explosions onscreen- including Jonah’s horse-mounted, twin Gatling guns- the lack of inspiration in some parts and sheer mediocrity in others is plainly and painfully obvious. That of course is also the nail that seals this coffin, since Hayward seemed intent on making nothing more than a bullets-and-bombs B-movie.
Sometimes when so much bad press surrounds a movie, you actually find that it ain’t as bad as people have made it out to be. But “Jonah Hex” is unfortunately not that movie- the only reason why you should catch it is to watch one of the biggest Hollywood duds this summer. Come Razzie time, you’ll be guaranteed this one will win some awards- and I don’t mean it in a good way.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Just a couple of deleted scenes- which are even more unnecessary than the movie. Frankly, don’t bother.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is loud, but could do with some subtlety and sense of place- especially with the use of the back speakers. Visuals are sharp and contrast is well-balanced during the nighttime sequences.
by Gabriel Chong
on 6 December 2010