Tuesday, June 22, 2010

602 - Jonah Hex review

“Jonah Hex” is a film no one asked for, a near self-parody of movie studios' eagerness to suck up any comic property in existence and crank out a picture just because they can. Based on a DC Comics property that most comic fans have never bothered to read, there's a bored, labored air about this film from the first frame. It's as if the major players knew exactly what they got into, but had kitchens that needed remodeling, and the knowledge that new tile can cost a lot of money.

Josh Brolin plays the titular Jonah Hex, a Confederate veteran with the ability to speak to the dead. He gained this skill after a near-death experience, which begs the question, does the mean to assert that God doesn't know the difference between nearly dead and dead? Give the deity some credit, I say.

There's not a lot to Hex, who roams the country in search of bad guys, money, and vengeance for his family. One would think that the ability to talk to the dead would be conducive to interesting or even insightful scenarios, but no, he really only uses this power to track down bad guys. I have a question for police officers, bounty hunters, and other trackers out there: just how do you find someone without communicating with the dead first?

The film's villain is another ex-Confederate named General Turnbull. He's played by John Malkovich, one of contemporary cinema's greatest actors. I took his presence as a good sign, but was baffled at the lethargy present in his performance. A wild-eyed Confederate genius in the middle of a silly comic movie should present ample opportunity for a talent such a Malkovich to have some fun, but he has none, which is about as much as the audience gets, too. Where's the Malkovich of "In the Line of Fire," of "Con Air," or even "Burn After Reading?" Thinking about his kitchen, I suppose.

For that matter, just about no one's having a good time. With top billing on a big budget summer movie, Brolin seemingly knows that the material doesn't do much to pitch his name for future high-profile pictures. He dutifully reads his lines, more than I can say for Malkovich, and exits without leaving an impression. Megan Fox, much maligned, has actually done good work in “Jennifer's Body.” Here she plays the world's best looking hooker, in love with Hex for no apparent reason other than that every hero needs a love interest, and in any other film, she'd look the most bored of the entire cast. The only actor who makes anything out of his role is Irish actor Michael Fassbender, who plays a gun thug with lots of attitude and precious little screen time.

There's a story in these 80 minutes somewhere, about a WMD (yes, in the 1870's) which consists of glowing orange Nerf balls and an attack on a speech by President Ulysses S. Grant attended by approximately 20 people. It makes no sense, but then again, neither does the rationale behind this film existing in the first place.

2 out of 5

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