Jonah Hex

I went to see a movie this weekend, really. It was only 80 minutes long, but it was still a movie. But it was just kind of... there. I watched, I understood what was going on -- not that it was difficult -- but afterwards most of it started drifting slowly out of my head. It'll never reach the point of that movie whose title I can never remember, because at least it had some visually interesting moments, but I'm still left wondering exactly what I paid $7.50 to see.

Now, I was a comic-book-reading kid when at least one of the Jonah Hex comic book incarnations was around, but I wasn't allowed to read them. My sister would lend me most of her comics, but she said those were too scary and violent for me. And she was right -- I snuck them while she was away (sorry, sis), because I was a kid and compelled to read everything I wasn't supposed to read, and they gave me nightmares.

In the movie, Jonah Hex, aka Josh Brolin of American Gangster, talks to dead people. Actually, dead people also try to kill him while he's talking to them, which leads to some awkward moments. He didn't do that in the comics I read, and it's just as well. If he had, I might still be in therapy. Anyway, they redid his origin to an extent, though his history rushes by so fast it was almost hard to tell. John Malkovich was there and did bad things, I know that much. He plays Quentin Turnbull, who was Hex's commanding officer when they were in the Confederate Army. But Turnbull, alas, went completely off the reservation, and when Hex didn't follow gleefully, Turnbull got mad. In the ensuing chaos, Turnbull's son, Jeb (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Losers, who had the sense to remain uncredited and who I totally didn't recognize under that big beard; plus he was dead and all) gets killed, and it's Jonah's fault. So Turnbull Sr. kills the wife and child that Jonah never had in the comics and marks Jonah's face with a branding iron. Yikes.

Jonah becomes a bounty hunter, though he also seems to have a price on his own head, so I'm not sure how that works. Considering they show him having to kill people just to get the bounty, it's probably always a little awkward. It would be like Jesse James turning in the Dalton Brothers to the sheriff. Anyway, Jonah thinks that Turnbull is dead, killed in a hotel fire; and even though it's almost impossible to get him to believe anything during the rest of the movie, for some reason he believes that. But of course he isn't dead, because you don't hire John Malkovich to appear in only the first five minutes of a movie. Not only is he not dead, he has a really big gun. I mean, A Really Big Gun. It's like something from the Wild Wild West TV series, only bigger and scarier because they have much more special effects capability. There might be napalm involved, but there's more than just that going on.

President Grant (Aidan Quinn), overlooking the unfortunate price on Jonah's head, sends him after his nemesis, since entire squadrons of soldiers haven't gotten anywhere. Turnbull, figuring that what worked once will work again, sends one of his henchmen, Burke (Michael Fassbender of Inglourious Basterds, and wow, I hate typing that misspelling), to find out who Hex loves. That would be a prostitute named Lilah (Megan Fox), who works in the worst brothel the west has ever seen. Just anyone can wander up to her room and try to kill her, and no one seems to care.

Except Hex, of course. The rest of the movie is a blur of people fighting, being captured, shooting the Really Big Gun, and generally flailing around. Lance Reddick (Agent Broyles of Fringe) shows up as Smith -- that isn't his name, it's his job; or maybe it's both -- but since he has about five lines, that isn't much fun. None of it is much fun. It was quieter, so probably better than dealing with the screaming kids at Toy Story 3, but not by much. I mean, I don't go to the movies to sleep.

Two out of five. Sorry, DC, but I'm afraid that's the best I can do. Just don't treat Doom Patrol this way, or you and I will have to have words.

Image: 
Comic-book Jonah Hex and Josh Brolin in full costume.

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