Superhero Movie Month: "Jonah Hex" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

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Rating: PG-13
Length: 81 minutes
Release Date: June 18, 2010
Directed by: Jimmy Hayward
Genre: Action / Drama / Fantasy

Actor Josh Brolin stars in the 2010 fantasy Western "Jonah Hex," an action-packed story of revenge and redemption. When Jonah Hex betrays his commanding Confederate officer during the American Civil War, the officer repays him by killing his family and permanently scarring his face. After being revived, Hex becomes a formidable bounty hunter who thirsts for revenge. Although this film is entertaining, the scattered story and unbelievable plot points make the film more appropriate for open-minded action fans than for intellectual moviegoers.

Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a soldier fighting on the Confederate side during the Civil War, but when Hex kills his commanding officer's son to save a hospital, the betrayed Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich) burns down Hex's house with his family inside and brands his enemy's face with his own initials. Everything seems to be over for the war hero, but a tribe of Native Americans finds him and infuses him with strength using mystical powers. The revived Jonah Hex now has the ability to temporarily do the same with others, resurrect them from the dead to communicate with them. Hex uses a tomahawk to sear off the initials QT from his face, leading to his characteristic disfigurement.

Hex sets out to become a bounty hunter, and his skills soon become legendary. Believing Turnbull to be dead, Hex continues to collect bounties, killing those who promise a reward and instead try to murder him. When he visits a brothel, he meets a beautiful prostitute named Lilah (Megan Fox), who sees the man behind the disfigured face. The next morning, Hex is informed by the men of Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett) that Turnbull is still alive and up to no good, and Grass requests the service of the bounty hunter. Unable to forget his need for revenge, Hex quickly agrees and soon meets with Grass, who then reveals that they were unable to track Turnbull due to the death of an informant. Hex uses his powers of resurrection to bring the informant briefly back to life and learns that yet another one of his treacherous enemies, Colonel Slocum (Tom Wopat), is still alive.

Meanwhile, Turnbull and his assistant hoard a mysterious killing weapon that they stole from a train, but their intentions for the orange orb-like weapon are still unclear. Jonah Hex continues to track down Slocum and Turnbull, but Turnbull's possession of the ultimate weapon could change the fate of history itself.

Josh Brolin shines in his role as Jonah Hex, clearly putting plenty of heartfelt emotion into his acting. The performance is both compelling and convincing, and Brolin seems to melt effortlessly into the character. John Malkovich owns his character of Turnbull, using his expressive acting to beautifully portray the formidable officer. Will Arnett and Michael Fassbender also deliver commendable performances, while the rest of the supporting cast are acceptable. The cast of the film was well-chosen, and each actor brings his own unique style to the action-packed film.

"Jonah Hex" may offer up some great acting, but the film also suffers from its fair share of shortcomings. The plot sets the movie up for some great action sequences, but the story is ultimately tired and somewhat predictable. Additionally, due to the film's short running time of less than 90 minutes, scenes that could have added emotion and substance to the plot were needlessly rushed. This time constraint also leads to the underdevelopment of certain plot points. Finally, some of the choices in camera lenses used for shooting are less than desirable as the nighttime scenes are often overly dark.

Despite these setbacks, "Jonah Hex" is still an enjoyable flick for a fun movie night. The movie is based on a comic book of the same name, so the fantastical elements and sci-fi leaning are completely relevant. Even with the film's outlandish plot elements, such as the orb-like killing weapon and Hex's powers of resurrection, "Jonah Hex" never overuses special effects to the point where viewers are distanced from the film. This is one of the strong points of the movie as it allows the characters and well-choreographed fight scenes to shine.

"Jonah Hex" may not be the action film of the year, but the fun action scenes and interesting characters are enough to make this film worth watching at least once. The storytelling may be somewhat lazy, but "Jonah Hex" has redeeming qualities, such as great performances from Josh Brolin and others. Audiences who leave their high cinematic expectations aside are sure to find something enjoyable in this unique Western film.