Almost a weekly occurrence now, I am again faced with a weeknight film. Planning to going alone, my plans quickly changed before quitting time as I was accompanied by a pal from work. Instead of hitting the 8:10pm show at Westbury, we hit the 5:25pm show at the Cineplex close to the office. All that allows me to get my review to you even quicker.
SYNOPSIS: Ex-soldier turned bounty hunter, Jonah Hex, seeks revenge against confederate general, Quentin Turnbull, who killed his family and nearly killed him. Called into service by President Grant to hunt down Turnbull, Hex uses his mercenary and supernatural skills for a final showdown.
DC comics brings its lower tier and less known Civil War bounty hunter to the screen courtesy of Jimmy Hayward, best known for directing "Horton Hears a Who!". I could come up with slick tag lines to let you know how I felt about the film, but let's get right into the ragged cheek meat of the film.
Admittedly, although a comic book fan, I am not all that familiar with Jonah Hex other than his mangled look and the era in which he resides. Josh Brolin fills the Hex character well, scarred face and all. Driven and grim, Brolin brings Hex from a simmer to a boil. Malkovich plays Quentin Turnbull, the confederate general who is the source of Hex's misery misery. Malkovich plays the character with calm and cool, but comes off as stoic and stiff. Megan Fox plays the prostitute, Lilah, with a soft spot for Hex. If she was looking to increase her standing as a serious actress with this role, she had better keep looking, or at least fire her agent. Lilah is kept as a sexy prop with a cannon full of one-liners.
Akin to "Wild, Wild West", Hayward tries to modernize this Civil War era tale with electric guitar instrumentals and kinetic camera work. He should have continued looking with animated characters, because his direction of real people seems to be lacking. He relies too heavily on CGI effects for a film genre that typically is shot on a spaghetti string budget. There is obvious reason to use computer effects, especially when recreating period Washington and the 'nation killer' weapon of mass destruction that Turnbull assembles. But there is a scene with a dog and an indian village in the middle background that looks like CGI, that would be less expensive if done as a practical effect.
There are a couple of brighter spots, though. For one, some of the supporting cast make up for some of the misses in the film. Michael Fassbender as Turnbull's trusted henchman Burke is not as sinister as Ben Foster's Charlie Prince in the 2007 "3:10 to Yuma", but is interesting to watch. Aidan Quinn as President Grant, Will Arnet as Lieutenant Grass and Wes Bentley as co-conspirator Adleman Lusk add what little life can be breathed into the story. Also, the parts of the film where Hex uses his connections into the supernatural to revive dead villains for interrogation are arguably the best scenes in the scene, although Hex's found dog seems to have great acting chops.
For fans of the genre or of Jonah Hex, there is not much that I can say on a positive note to persuade even the most hardened supporters to go see this film. But even though I have been accused of being too nice to the films by my ratings, I can not in good conscience regulate this film to 'Network Television'.