"Hex" Crime

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On paper, Jonah Hex seems like a character primed for the silver screen. A scarred, surly, Old West antihero, Hex made his debut in DC Comics’ All-Star Western #10 in 1972, and even though he never garnered the popularity of Batman or Superman, he’s become one of the publisher’s cult-favorite characters. Surely, those fans that have supported this character over the decades must be pretty excited that their favorite gunslinger is making his cinematic debut in Jimmy Hayward’s Jonah Hex, right? Well, they shouldn’t be.

One of the most disappointing things about Jonah Hex is that it could have been a far better film in more capable hands. Starring Josh Brolin as the titular bounty hunting badass and John Malkovich as his nemesis, a former Confederate officer-turned terrorist named Quentin Turnbull, this film should have been a slick, modern Western based on solid source material featuring top-notch actors. Instead, in spite of Brolin’s noteworthy performance that nearly pulls this film out of the muck on several occasions, it’s one of the most predictable and sloppily-edited action films in recent memory, and one can’t help but think that this was a total rush job.

Oh, and for those of you titillated by the idea of Megan Fox playing a tough-as-nails (and frequently sweaty) gun-packing prostitute, here’s another bombshell: She’s barely in the movie.

At the beginning of the film, we learn that Jonah was once a Confederate soldier, but when he turned his back on his general, Turnbull, his family was burned alive right in front of him. Turnbull let Jonah live, but left his mark on him by burning his face with a branding iron. Brought close to death, Jonah now somehow has the ability to commune with the dead, which is a big deal, well, because it’s important to the plot. Now, the U.S. government needs his help because (gasp!) Turnbull is still alive, and he’s building a super-weapon that will certainly put a damper on the forthcoming Centennial celebrations.

But enough about plot, how high is the body count? Although this film carries a PG-13 rating, Jonah kills plenty of bad guys, and the film doesn’t skimp on the action. But Hayward—whose only other directorial credit is the poorly-received Dr. Seuss adaptation Horton Hears a Who!—seems to have no idea how to shoot action sequences. The bad guys shoot at Jonah, he shoots back. Sometimes, things catch on fire and explode. Wash, rinse, repeat. When the dialogue is mostly expository, the characters are paper-thin and the gunfights are surprisingly boring, what is there to latch on to? The bad CGI? The would-rather-be-doing-something-else performances? Megan Fox’s too-tight corset?

Jonah Hex clocks in at just over 80 minutes, but it feels much longer than that. If you happen to see this film, don’t be surprised if you find yourself checking your watch a few times before the credits start rolling.

Jonah Hex could have been yet another successful comic-to-film franchise for DC, but it instead succeeds only as a blueprint for future filmmakers on what not to do when bringing a lesser-known character to the screen. And since Jonah Hex rustled up only $5.1 million in U.S. theaters during its opening weekend, it looks like we won’t be seeing this character saddle up in theaters anytime soon.

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