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DVD Review: Jonah Hex

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Jonah Hex is a paint-by-numbers mishmash that attempts to pull a consistent story out of the DC Comics character of the same name. It is an entirely formulaic affair. It creaks and croaks out of the gate and director Jimmy Hayward attempts to limp it through its 80 or so minutes with a rock-infused score (Mastodon!), a lot of explosions and a very small dose of Megan Fox.

Josh Brolin stars as the titular Jonah Hex. He is, apparently, an anti-hero and he must almost always be addressed by his full name. Most of the other characters in the picture do this, resulting in a strange harmony of “Jonah Hex” in various tones. Jonah Hex wants revenge on the evil Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) because Turnbull killed his family. After that, the villain burned Jonah Hex in the face with his brand and that creates a series of facial difficulties for the hero.

Of course, Turnbull winds up having a plan to destroy the United States because he’s a terrorist. He gets his hands on a Super Weapon that is unimaginatively dubbed a Nation Killer. Turnbull plans on blowing up the Capitol Building with the Nation Killer because that’s what a terrorist would do. Jonah Hex is brought in to stop Turnbull. Along the way, Megan Fox is introduced as a prostitute having some sort of relationship with Jonah Hex. She unsurprisingly becomes bait.

Along with the relatively straightforward plot, Jonah Hex packs in a pile of supernatural stuff to give the character a bit more significance. He can talk to the dead, for instance, and they come alive in reanimated form just long enough to give him some important clues as to where the villains are. Jonah Hex also has a few other supernatural abilities, including the knack to set his fist on fire to cuff a bad guy. Also, a crow flies out of his mouth. No, really.

Jonah Hex is couched in uproarious formula. From the fact that everything must explode to the idea that we must have the hero work in a couple of animal-related “sidekicks,” Hayward follows the absurdity flowchart to the letter. I could spend a long time going over the enormous assortment of peculiarity, like the part where a character gets his head forced into a huge boat’s propeller only to drop to the ground with a small pool of blood to show for it, but that would take away the “fun” of seeing this movie. 

The casting is interesting too, with actors like Will Arnett, Michael Shannon and Michael Fassbender showing up.

Oddly enough, I have to hand it to Jonah Hex at least somewhat. It wasn’t boring and, kind of like Neil LaBute’s The Wicker Man, it has an unintentionally side-splitting quality to it that passes the time in amusing fashion. Still, I would have liked to have seen the cast and filmmakers absolutely commit to the folly of the premise and that just wasn’t happening.

In all honesty, the main reason I elected to even check out Jonah Hex was for the Megan Fox quotient. Fox, for all intents and purposes, serves even less of a purpose here than she does in Michael Bay’s pair of Transformers flicks. She looks quite agreeable in those “painful” corsets, sure, but there’s no bending over a motorcycle and no up-and-down pans of her changing to scope out. Hayward, I suppose, just isn’t the exploitative tool Bay is.

So besides accidental laughter, is there any good reason to check out Jonah Hex? Not really. There are plenty of explosions and some attempts at wild action, but these sequences are rendered with such dreadful CGI that they’re barely watchable. It’s not really a terrible picture, but it sure isn’t good unless you’re planning on playing a drinking game that involves downing a shot every time a person addresses Brolin’s character by his full name.

The standard DVD release features nothing more than a few deleted scenes, none of which add anything to the production.

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