Pros: Josh Brolin's performance. Lots of good action and macho BS.
Cons: Unclear story, lack of vision, and mixing of genres into a muddy mess.
Jonah Hex (2010) Directed by Jimmy Hayward
"Me and war was always kinda suited for each other." Jonah Hex.
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) was a confederate soldier who was forced to make a decision between his conscience and his orders. His moral decision ended up costing his best friend his life, and Jeb's father, their commander, held Jonah accountable. Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) lost the only thing he loved in the world, and as a consequence, he deprived Jonah of all he loved; his wife and son, and branded his face with his sign that Hex might carry the reminder to the grave.
Jonah nearly did carry it to the grave; he got far further towards the Otherside than any man should, and when he came back he was a bit...different.
Hideously scarred, more inside than out, Jonah Hex sought revenge, until a random accident robbed him of it, Turnbull dying in a fire. Or did he?
Quentin Turnbull was never a man to let anything stand in his way, and he has the means to extract his revenge on the United States. And President Grant (Aidian Quinn) knows there is only one man to outdo General Quinton Turnbull; Jonah Hex.
Sounds like a neat concept, yes? It is. Now let's talk about the execution.
I don't have a problem with steam punk. I thought the Wild Wild West, both the original series, and the Will Smith vehicle were great good fun. But the thing is they knew they were ridiculous, never tried to be anything but ridiculous, and were exceedingly entertaining, if ridiculous. Here is the problem. Jonah Hex is a man driven by revenge, and a personal code of honor. For the movie, they gave him supernatural powers which I won't go into. He did not have these abilities in the books.
Further, the threat they face, Turnbull's "Doomsday" weapon is just a wee bit more advanced than a Gatling gun. It is something we would have trouble making in this day and age. Then there are the dynamite shooters. Now, here is the question, is Jonah Hex supposed to be a scarred Clint Eastwood, a Wild West Ghost Whisperer, or Captain James West with a skin condition? Honestly, they couldn't have screwed it up much more throwing in a tribe of Klingons on the warpath.
Now, I had no trouble with Josh Brolin's performance. I thought it had a nice weight to it, and rang true to my concept of the character. The love interest, soiled dove, Lilah (Megan Fox) I would have liked better if she wasn't even more cynical than Jonah. And if she did not look so...aromatic. There was something greasy and unclean about her; not what I call appealing. She does however, fill out a corset nicely, and more to the point, spills out of it brilliantly.
John Malkovich of course gives good menace; doesn't he always? And I rather liked Michael Fassbender as the scurrilous and overly tattooed Mick Burke. He gives good malice with a gleeful twist.
These solid performances and the very good special effects really lay the problem on director Jimmy Hayward's shoulders. The choppy uneven pacing and the muddled story speak not of a man with a vision, but a studio with the rights to a property, and some relative of someone important who needs work. It's sad, because the concept has a lot of meat on the bone. But like Jonah's informants, this one has gone rancid. Catch Toy Story 3 instead.