Sunday, June 27, 2010

Jonah Hex

I can only assume that at some point studio executives took a look at Jonah Hex, shook their heads, and decided America wasn't ready for a political allegory wrapped inside of a movie based on a second-tier DC Comics character. The resulting 80-minute version probably isn't some kind of mangled classic but is just crazy enough to pique my curiosity. My attempt to get "Jonah Hex Justifications" going on Twitter was just a ruse; Jonah Hex is the kind of movie one sees with the hope it might be a turkey for the ages.

The basics: Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is left for dead by his commanding officer Col. Turnbull (John Malkovich) after refusing to participate in the war crimes of his Confederate Army Company and killing Turnbull's son. (Cheers if you can figure that out from the opening montage) Rescued by Indians, Hex is revived and granted the ability to talk to the dead. Scarred by Turnbull's brand, he's operating as a bounty hunter when found by the U.S. Army (Will Arnett is offbeat casting as an officer). It seems Turnbull, thought dead, is staging a series of terrorist attacks with the ultimate goal of bringing down the U.S. Government during the Centennial celebration. Turnbull and his forces have the goal of the Tea Party (tearing down the established order with no subsequent plan) and use the methods of Al Qaeda, though the superweapon they use looks like something from a steampunk era episode of Alias. John Malkovich however has the goal of cashing a check and uses the method of phoning it in. It's a tired, lazy performance and I could have sworn there were a couple of scenes where we were actually looking at some kind of Malkovich-like Muppet. Malkovich aside, the cast is the best thing about Jonah Hex. I wanted to spend a little more time with Michael Fassbender's smiling killer and Lance Reddick's purveyor of jacked-up weaponry. Then there's Megan Fox as the prostitute who can bring out Jonah's softer side. Even less is asked of Fox here than in Jennifer's Body, if that's possible. While I would have liked to have seen her and everyone else try to make Jonah Hex a little more fun, I deeply resent the "Can this career be saved?" whispers following Fox around the web. She's in the movie for 10-12 minutes tops, and no one seems too worried about Josh Brolin's career.

Jonah Hex finally descends into madness. Is director Jimmy Hayward really cutting between two different scenes of Malkovich and Brolin fighting in different locations? Yes, he is. Michael Shannon is allegedly playing a character called "Doc Cross Williams". Can you find him? I couldn't. Why did anyone want Jonah Hex to be made? I don't know.

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