The melding of Warner Brothers and DC has provided both compliments and complaints over the years but until recently the most prevalent one was the reluctance to make a movie that didn’t feature Batman or Superman. From Richard Donner’s original Superman to Christopher Nolan’s final entry in his Dark Knight trilogy, the vast majority of DC properties to get launched at the big screen are either the big blue boy scout or the pointy eared detective and any other character – be it Green Lantern or Catwoman – have gone down in spectacular flames.
Eventually the world deemed that little known DC character, Jonah Hex – a gunslinging bounty hunter who can talk to the dead – needed a movie adaptation far more than Wonder Woman and so we arrive here, at one of DC’s most forgettable flops.
The plot, as if it fucking matters, is this. Jonah, a man who fights for the South in the Civil War, not because he believes in slavery but because he doesn’t want no President telling him what to do (yeah, THAT’S the mark of a hero), who grasses his commanding officer up for being too violent during wartime by attacking hospitals and so on.
Gaining revenge the the officermurders Jonah’s family and brands his face leaving him with a visage as squiggly as alphabety-spagetti but our hero is brought back from near-death by Native Americans who are never actually introduced. The side-effects to this, handily, are that Jonah can speak to the dead which in turn makes him a keen tracker and a hugely successful and VERY brutal bounty hunter. However, when word gets around that his old boss is still alive and planning terrorist attacks on the 100 year birthday of America utilising cannonballs with the power of a nuclear bomb (don’t look at me, I didn’t write it), Hex is hired by the president to bring down the man who killed his family.
The experience of watching Jonah Hex must be what I imagine it’s like to be picked out of a crowd by a comedy hypnotist during a live show. You’re fully aware something’s happening to to you and you’re 99% sure it’s something truly embarrassing but once its finished you’re damned if you can remember the first thing about it, in fact, in order to compile this review I watched the thing this very day and STILL had to refer back to IMBD to get the plot straight! The movie seems to obliterate almost every trace of itself as it winds through the tracks of your brain like a concentrated dose of alzheimers and all you are left with is the disgruntled and distinct feeling that you’ve gone and piss an hour and a half of your life up the wall (spoiler: you have).
Edited and re-edited to barely resemble a coherent storyline you get the feeling that the studio, terrified of putting out something as bizarre as a supernatural/comicbook/western, panel-beat the shit out of anything remotely seeming like an original idea to cram as much cliche superhero shit they could in an attempt to give the audience something familiar to cling to. However, all they seem to have done is take out anything that’s either a) interesting; or b) makes a lick of sense and the film lurches from scene to scene with all the grace of someone who’s washed their course of antibiotics down with a bottle if Jack Daniels.
The only memorable thing about this thing is the supporting cast, not that they’re any good you understand, but because you genuinely don’t expect to see them pop up in a movie this bad. Will Arnett, Michael Shannon, Lance Reddick, Wes Bentley and Aidan Quinn all rocket past your eyeballs for maybe only a scene or two leaving you questioning your very sanity as to whether you ever actually saw them in the first place. The main cast, however, gamely and thanklessly wade through to the bitter end. Josh Brolin is a good fit for the supernatural gunslinger (despite having to curl his lines around lip curling prothetics) but his base-heavy tones fit a certain purple skinned titan or a metal armed time traveller far better than this particular comic character. Megan Fox fares way worse in a role as skimpy as her wardrobe as a prostitute who… is a prostitute. Women usually fare pretty badly when comic book movies are trying to be “dark”, “edgy” or simply “shit” but Fox is saddled with every negative character trait there is being both a one know sex object AND kidnap foil for the hero. You can’t help but feel bad for her.
This brings us to John Malkovich as the villain of the piece who’s intrest seems to have checked out before he was even cast and acts so subdued I genuinely thought they were using his outtakes. In fact the only who looks like they’re having any fun is Michael Fassbender as a tattooed, Irish henchman who exuberance onscreen is surely indicating that the job must be paying well.
Originally set to be directed by the Crank team of Nevildine and Taylor who subsequently walked due to creative differences but retained script credit, Jonah Hex feel like the original ideas of multiple people were hurled at the script but not one of them ended up ever being used because no one had a clue what the finished product was supposed to look like. As a result we have a fantasy western that somehow make the much maligned Wild Wild West – in which Will Smith’s character actually apologised for the end of slavery – seem like Unforgiven in comparison.
The only cowboys of note here are the ones who made the film.