Jonah Hex– *
Directed by Jimmy Hayward
Starring Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich
Release date: June 18, 2010
The bloodlust gains infinitely as the comic book adaptation of Jonah Hex expands to its inevitable conclusion. Moral values, social codes, or respect are all tossed out the window because director Jimmy Hayward doesn’t think it necessary to shed light on things that aren’t so aggressive. Violent films work when morality and humanity are at stake and when they are emphasized and demonstrated thoroughly (see No Country for Old Men and The Proposition). In Jonah Hex all of that is obsolete, making it a picture obsessed with intolerable cruelty, single mindedness, and unfathomable new-aged weaponry. Western films made their living on respectable themes and characters that showcased value and more than a one-track mind. This neo-neo western shows extreme contempt for all of that, making the splendor of the western even more distant from the public as it already is. Younger folk have a better opportunity of beholding the exhilaration and immersing themselves deeply into the atmosphere of the Wild West when they turn on their video game consoles and insert Red Dead Redemption.
Director Hayward, whose body of work only contains the animated Horton Hears a Who, makes the first botch as he puts his film in considerable jeopardy when he tries to encompass and explain the life of Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) in a rushed manner that is displayed in comic-book animation. But this is ill-conceived as far as plot is concerned. If this quick montage would have been shown in its fullness the entire film would have been strengthened because it shows us Hex as a man content with his life, his experiences with Indians (is this why he can talk to the dead?), and then as a man who has become derailed. The entire film is devoted to Hex, who is in a one-dimensional mode the entire time.
Set during the Civil War in the south, Hex no longer has the stomach for violence or warfare. He sees war as being fought by hypocrites on both sides. When he turns in Quentin Turnball (John Malkovich) and his band of outlaws (one being Michael Fassbender) for participating in shady and terroristic events, Hex will soon realize that he possesses the same amount of violence; vengeful violence. Hex’s hypocritical approach to warfare is brought about by Turnball and his gang as they punish Hex for squealing on them by tying him up, letting him watch his family burn alive, and then branding the side of his face so he constantly mourns the day Turnball got his revenge. Miraculously, or probably because it is a comic book adaptation, Hex survives after being left for dead for days (thanks to Indians) and finds himself as a bounty hunter working for the U.S. government, along with the town’s prostitute (Megan Fox), in tracking down Turnball who is planning a terrorist attack on our nation’s capital.
The concept of the neo-Western is a fascinating one. But this is smothered to the brink of death thanks to the extraordinarily persistent action scenes which are infested and contaminated to death with the excessive use of CGI. There are potent and relevant ideas also that are waiting to be exploited here (the pacifist perspective and slavery issue), but are disregarded because their connection with the exhaustive action scenes are irrelevant.
Even the acting suffers due to this as well; the uncanny wit that Malkovich so faithfully adheres to is practically ignored and Brolin’s tough guy snare can be confused as representing his feelings of being in this film. Fox’s sexual image is the only thing that is alive and well and that is detrimental to the film.
What a complete 180 Hayward does. His excursion into the animated world of children really must have put him through a living nightmare. Each of his characters in Jonah Hex he puts in severe peril, almost making him out to be a sadist. No one leaves the film unscathed and he doesn’t expound on anything that isn’t ultra-violent. Hayward’s intellectual competence is basically squashed in that he offers no new knowledge that anyone who watches this film can benefit from.