USA 2010 Directed by: Jimmy Hayward Written by: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (screenplay), Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor, William Farmer (story), John Albano, Tony Dezuniga (characters) Produced by: Akiva Goldsman, Andrew Lazar Cinematography: Mitchell Amundsen Editing: Kent Beyda, Dan Hanley, Tom Lewis, Fernando Villena Music: Marco Beltrami, Mastodon Cast: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett
Hollywood is desperate. Original material is hardly ever original, each and every sequel has already been made into a triquel and now they’re digging really deep to find new gold mines. It doesn’t come as a surprise that they even resort to material that I find hard to make into a commercially successful movie. So casting Megan Fox makes a lot of sense as she has a real function here: to guarantee for half of the movie tickets.
Despite HEX running for decades and the character appearing in various other comics his background as well as the graphic nature of the comic are anything but mainstream. The movie is equally sinister, with death and darkness surrounding us throughout. Additionally, JONAH HEX features not a single likable character. Everyone’s scarred, disenchanted, loners surviving on their own with no concrete future waiting for them.
The studio didn’t dare to make JONAH HEX into a really gruesome movie though. As a result it falls short of following through – it may quote every Franco Nero western ever filmed (especially KEOMA and DJANGO), but JONAH HEX is just talking.
With a trying-his-best Brolin mumbling his way through the movie, lots of threatening talk and a few lackluster shootouts JONAH HEX doesn’t make much out of the original material. The character’s ability to get in contact with the afterlife and literally raise hell, his reputation as the most cruel bounty hunter, all that is never adequately translated onto the screen. We get to see a few glimpses of it, and then it’s over (after less than 80 minutes, to be precise).
On the other hand the movie is not commercial enough to appeal to a broader audience either. No real love story, no memorable punch lines, none of the familiar ingredients at all. I appreciate however that JONAH HEX didn’t turn out a disaster of GHOST RIDER proportions (with the difference being that we got around Cage this time).
It’s going to be interesting to see how JONAH HEX is doing outside the US where it’s not exactly a brand name, or known at all (so far it doesn’t even do well within the States I believe). Who cares about the US civil war, the duel between two old cowboy farts and some kind of ridiculous über-weapon in Europe or in Asia (maybe Kim Jong-Il does)?
What else is to say? The movie has no plot. It really hasn’t. It glues various motifs together that are all borrowed from western, fantasy, occult horror and war movies. In between we see Megan Fox in skimpy outfits. If they were any skimpier it would have been worth bearing with the movie interrupting her revue, but they even screwed that up.