A Civil War veteran who talks to the dead and has a score to settle with a guy who swiped the superweapon secretly developed by Eli Whitney? Great idea. Supernatural old west? Also great. So why does Jonah Hex suck?
The setup for this flick - based on a twisted comic book - is awesome, and it's filmed with a stylish Spaghetti-Western-on-acid panache. Jonah Hex is a soldier who rebelled against orders from his commander to kill civilians. As a result of his mutiny, the son of his commander is killed. Unfortunately that commander is the nutso John Malkovich, and he hunts Jonah down, murdering his family and branding Jonah's face. (Just to be badass, Jonah burns the brand off with the side of an axe he's heated in a fire.) For some reason, after nutso Malko leaves him for dead, our scarred hero Jonah is helped by some magical Indian stereotypes. And that's how he gains the power to talk to dead people.
Now Jonah is a bounty hunter, who is also on a quest to finally kill off nutso Malko. Who, by the way, has become a terrorist. Who wants to blow up the government with - I shit you not - a bunch of weapons that look like dragonballs. Basically they are "giant black balls that allowed us to spend all our effects money on blowing things up." And I must say, the explosion money was well spent: There are a lot of explosions in this movie, including an exciting moment where the bad guys rob and dynamite a train. Also there's Megan Fox playing a hooker - which makes it kind of like Transformers, but mercifully shorter at 80 minutes.
The really sad part is that Josh Brolin is great as Jonah, and even Fox is awesome as his girlfriend who carries weapons in her nether regions. There are so many moments when this movie could have gone off the rails into delightful craziness. Instead, each time we reach a burningly fucked up moment, the story gets reined in so we can have YET ANOTHER expository moment about how sad it is that Jonah's wife and kid were murdered and OMG we'd better stop the terrorist before he bombs the White House! For an 80 minute movie, there were just way too many "emotional" recap moments. Who exactly needs multiple, repeated flashbacks to keep straight in their minds that Jonah has a score to settle, and that the big round flamey things are dangerous to America?
I think the main problem with this movie falls squarely on the shoulders of the people who took the script away from foul-mouthed geniuses Neveldine and Taylor (Crank, Gamer) and turned it over to Jimmy Hayward, a guy whose only directing credit was ten years ago, for Horton Hears A Who!. Hayward turned Neveldine and Taylor's script into a bumbling flick about - hold your breath - fighting terrorism. Seriously, people. We come to the movies wanting to see the Gatling guns on Jonah's horse, and ghouls in the Old West, and you give us Malko as a terrorist who hates the American government and has really bad hair? This movie should have been like Crank goes Old West - nonstop insane action with blood and guts and fucking.
Instead we got Brolin yelling, Malko mincing, and Fox flouncing. Plus: Terrorism is bad! Also, killing civilians is mean.
Tragically I cannot recommend this flick, even as a stoner movie. If you want to see something violent this weekend, rent Crank or Gamer instead, and imagine how awesome Jonah Hex would have been if Neveldine and Taylor had directed it.
If you must see it, please consider entertaining all of us by making a Tumblr blog devoted to pictures of Josh Brolin in front of fluorescent backgrounds. Screenshots from this movie can fill at least a hundred entries easy.