As further evidence that I’m either a brilliant iconoclast tilting at the conventional wisdom or else just too damn weird for my own good, I watched the universally-reviled JONAH HEX and found it surprisingly entertaining.
Now, I’ve been reading Jonah Hex in comic books for close to forty years now, and don’t get me wrong: JONAH HEX the movie is nowhere near a faithful adaptation of the character. The back-story is the same, but just about everything else is different, as the filmmakers give Hex the supernatural power of being able to bring the dead back to life long enough to talk to them and find out things he needs to know and have him fighting an old enemy who has built a super-weapon (originally designed by Eli Whitney) that he intends to use in a series of terrorist attacks meant to bring the country to its knees. Hex, who at the beginning of the movie is a bounty hunter like in the comics, is recruited by the government to stop the bad guy’s plan.
Yes, it’s silly, but for somebody who’s never read the comics (like the people watching it with me), I think it’s a serviceable plot. Josh Brolin does a good job as Hex, although the scarred-face makeup didn’t look quite right to me, and John Malkovich chews the scenery just fine as the bad guy. Megan Fox plays a whore who’s an old friend of Hex’s but doesn’t have a lot to do.
I do have some complaints about the movie that have nothing to do with whether or not it’s faithful to the comic book. The movie calls itself a Western, and yet nearly the entire thing takes place in South Carolina and Virginia. It seems to me it would have been more effective if the writers had found some way to move the action out west. Also, the big centennial celebration at the end where the final showdown takes place never would have been held at night. In 1871, such things were held during the day. Also, for a movie with as many special effects as this one has, at times it looked surprisingly cheap, like the producers couldn’t afford enough extras to make things realistic.
A lot of critics complained about how short JONAH HEX is. Not counting the credits at the end, it runs about 75 minutes. Well, that didn’t bother me. There’s always a lot going on, and it didn’t seem like a particularly short movie. Hey, a lot of B-movies from Thirties, Forties, and Fifties managed to pack plenty of stuff into 75 minutes. I do think this one could have used a little more exposition, as some of the plot was a little hard to follow, but another five minutes or so would have done it.
Overall, I wouldn’t say JONAH HEX is a good movie, but it entertained me more than I expected it to. If you can just forget about the comic book, or have no knowledge of the comic book, it’s an okay way to pass some time.
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