Jonah Hex – In Theatres Now
by Diane Ligman
Jonah Hex stars Josh Brolin as the title character, Jonah Hex. Jonah Hex is an ex-Confederate Soldier. Why is he an ex-soldier? Though loving war, he turned on his regiment when his commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich)ordered them to attack a hospital. Because of this, all the men in the regiment, including Jonah’s best friend and Quentin’s son, Jeb Turnbull, is killed. Quentin decides to get revenge on Jonah by killing Jonah’s wife and child and then branding his face.
Due to these events, Jonah almost dies and in the process becomes semi-invincible and can now talk to dead people. Because Quinton is supposedly dead, Jonah becomes a bounty hunter. During this time, he befriends a prostitute named Lilah (Megan Fox). Several years pass and Turnbull resurfaces building a small army and gathering pieces of a secret “Nation Killer” machine. President Grant (Aidan Quinn) orders Lt Grass (Will Arnett) to draft Jonah Hex and his supernatural powers into service to track down Turnbull and stop him before he attacks on the Nation’s 100 year Birthday.
Megan Fox is better in this than she was in either Transformers. There were glimpses of her ability to act and her accent was far from the worst in the film. This was actually a comfort to me since she has been tapped to star as Aspen Matthews in the upcoming movie Fathom.
Josh Brolin’s Hex make-up was very good. Granted he still looks lovely, but it does look like a burn scar for the most part. The costumes were well done. Although Jonah Hex suffers from “Hollywood” – in other words, all of the main roles are played by beautiful people, the extras looked incredibly well worn. And given the time period that is how it should be, life was brutal back then.
No one chews the scenery as well as the character Burke, Turnbull’s right hand man, played by Michael Fassbender. He is deliciously wicked and at one point has the same laugh as the Frank Gorshin’s Riddler from the 60’s Batman TV show and movie. It was a treat.
Honestly, the film as a whole. The plot is hard to follow because of repeated flashbacks and dream sequences, and these scenes fail to drive home any emotional impact – which is the whole reason they are there.
The “Nation Killer” machine is bizarre at best. It is supposed to be a technical wonder yet when they show how it works, it seems more mystical than technical. And there are aspects to the device, like the shape of the White House etched on the periscope that are actually laughable, and not in a good way.
John Malkovich just seems to be phoning it in. His evil is flip at best. I just never bought that he could command troops at all. Couple that with the fact that I really never understood why he is fighting, or more importantly why he is choosing to fight in the manner he is. If it is because of honor and pride, then where is the honor and pride in killing children? At one point, in essence, a church is blown up. I get the reference, but why Turnbull is doing it makes no sense. The Civil War wasn’t about differences of religion at all, so the reference is just more confusing than anything.
Although Jonah is a Confederate Soldier the Civil War is treated really odd. When the topic of slavery is brought up it is stated that Jonah never believed in it. Yet the reason why he fought for the South was because he didn’t like the Government telling his people what to do. Given that slavery is entirely a Master forcing people to do things, and that the military’s backbone is people taking orders it just seemed like a really bizarre rationale.
Similarly, although this is based on a Western comic book, they try very hard to make Jonah Hex contemporary, and they fail miserably. The writers give Jonah special powers because he almost died before being brought back to life by Native Americans – and then they totally drop the fact that in the comic he was raised by Native Americans. The film never explains why they keep saving him, other than that his wife looks to be Native American by skin color and that she has a feather in her hair.
Turnbull’s actions are clearly those of a domestic terrorist (with all of the obvious baggage that entails). There is even this somewhat feminist aspect to Megan Fox’s Lilah that is a little odd. Apparently she doesn’t want to “play house” and doesn’t like “being owned.”
The topper for the list of complaints about Jonah Hex is that the editing was really poor. People in one spot are shown in a completely different spot two seconds later. Unless they are moving superfast, that just didn’t seem right. Now, it seemed apparent that they were trying to fill in but if all you get is a 80 minute movie even after filling in, that says something about the strength of your film.
If you are a fan of the Jonah Hex comic book, the names are the same, but that is about where the similarity ends. Even Jonah’s scar has it’s origin changed so that is from Turnbull, instead of because of the duel between Jonah and the Chief’s son. So if you are looking for faithfulness to the comic, don’t go.
Really, the only people I can recommend Jonah Hex to is people interested in seeing Megan Fox half naked. Then you might like it. Aside from those folks, if you have any interest at all, wait for it to go on Netflix.