I love Westerns. I love great revenge films. I love good comic book adaptations. “Jonah Hex” is neither. In fact it almost aspires to not be a good movie at every single turn that seems almost calculated meticulously to suck the life out of its audience as much as humanly possible. From the casting of Megan Fox as a heroine, Will Arnett as a villain, and the conscious avoidance of the source material’s gritty and bleak Western tone, “Jonah Hex” is an abomination, a sheer testament to the waste of time, money, and resources comic book adaptations can be.
Paired with “Ghost Rider,” anyone can use this as a stern argument against comic book movies, and it has enough bile to kill the western sub-genre once and for all. “Jonah Hex” is something of a curiosity. It’s quite the car wreck on-screen that takes twists and turns in its narrative and directorial style that are not only embarrassing but confounding in that it could be great and potentially game changing, but is instead never sure what it wants to be to its audience. It tries to be a hip western re-invention to appeal to the young crowds and fails horribly, it pays tribute to the comic book by staging the prologue in a comic book slideshow and fails horribly (obviously the comic prologue is there to compensate for lack of budget and shot sequences), and it tries to be a traditional western and fails miserably. Not just that but “Jonah Hex” is a monumental bore with no appealing characters all of whom are played by actors who look ashamed to be in this spectacle.
Particularly there’s Josh Brolin a man I thought was rid of campy junk like this but apparently wanted to collect a quick paycheck playing an anti-hero who is supposed to be tough talking and merciless, but is most of the time obnoxious and grating. When not mumbling incoherent dialogue under his horrible make-up, he’s delivering clunky one-liners all of which are intended to make him sound tough as nails but instead just inspires the crowd to root for his demise. Megan Fox is painfully implanted in this setting for the purposes of mainstream appeal (why is she still acting?) as she plays this performance with a sleepy gaze dressed as a hooker in about as risqué attire as the PG-13 rating would allow and often looks as if she got lost on the way to a college Halloween party and slurring her dialogue to conceal her terrible southern accent.
Her character adds literally nothing and director Hayward wastes prime Hollywood talent left and right all of whom look exhausted and bored with this material. The story rambles on for thankfully a little under eighty minutes about revenge, political corruption and goofy macguffins that are supposed to be Western style weapons of mass destruction all while Jonah is on the hunt for his old nemesis who is rising to power in the government. Truth be told I attempted to focus in on the story and plotline, but it’s so hopelessly scattered and dunderheaded that it’s almost impossible to follow without hurting your head and falling asleep.
It’s odd how horrible films tend to feel like eternity even when they’re barely over an hour long (credits don’t count). The source material for “Jonah Hex” has the potential to be a gruesome, gritty, and excellent Western masterpiece, and director Jimmy Hayward shows us that it can also be a horribly unwatchable mess spitting on everything the Western genre has set forth for movie fans. If you’re in the market for a good Western, avoid this. If you’re in the market for a film so bad it’s good, avoid this. If you’re in the market for a revenge flick, avoid this. If you’re in the market for some Josh Brolin badassery, avoid this. The general point being avoid this like it’s a fungus.