Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What the Fux?

I had a coupon. That's my excuse for going to see Jonah Hex. I had a coupon good for movies that weren't marked NO PASSES and the only movie like that I hadn't seen was Jonah Hex. As for the million or so people who actually paid to see it, I have no idea what their excuse is and you should ask them. It only scored 12% on the Tomatometer but I thought, "Hell, I've disagreed with other critics before. Maybe this will at least turn out to be OK." I was wrong on a level of wrongness normally only scored by people who say that 2+2=5.

The titular character (Josh Brolin) fought for the Confederacy before changing sides after his commander, General Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), goes crazy and starts burning up hospitals and such. Turnbull is understandably hostile toward anyone who gets between him and the brutal slaughter of innocents so he hunts Hex down after the war and makes him watch while he kills Hex's family and burns Hex's face with a branding iron. Hex almost dies but is nursed back to health by some Indians who, as far as I can tell, have a cure for death. The practical upshot of something like that is that he now has the power to raise the dead but only as long as he touches them and even then they slowly burn up until he lets them go and they die again. So, not a bad premise. I've been waiting my whole life for the Western to make a comeback. It never quite seems to and now, thanks to Jonah Hex, it won't be starting anytime soon.

His life experiences have made Hex the kind of guy who doesn't exactly embrace the child within and start spreading peace and love. Instead, he becomes a ruthless bounty hunter who usually has to not only shoot bad guys to get his bounty but also has to shoot the "good" guys who don't want to pay him. The only person he kind of likes is a prostitute played by Megan Fox. It's never explained why he likes her but I suspect it's either a shared love of Chaucer or a mutual appreciation of fine wine. Whatever the reason, she is so turned on by the mean, vicious, uncouth man with the deformed face who'd kill you as soon as look at you that she offers to give up her whoring ways and raise little freaks with him. I guess he figured he'd hold out for somebody hotter and says no but that's when a platoon of Union soldiers burst into the room to inform him that Turnbull is alive and would Hex have any interest in hunting him down. I won't spoil the movie by giving you his answer.

From there, the movie makes little sense. Each side has numerous opportunities to kill the other at various points in the film but screw them up either by allowing their enemies to see them before they pull the trigger, launching into some dumb speech or just saying, "Nah, don't kill him," and allowing the opponent time to escape. Oh, did I mention that, since the Civil War, Turnbull has become a terrorist who has acquired the very first WMD? Why are you laughing? I'm not making that up. Go see the movie yourself and prove me wro...no, don't do that.

No one is more surprised than I am that director Jimmy Hayward, a guy whose sole directing credit is Horton Hears A Who, would be unable to pull off a violent Western based on what I always thought was a slightly below average comic book. The acting's all right, I guess. Megan Fox shows untapped talents and actually makes you believe that guys would pay to have sex with her. Brolin is suitably stoic and Malkovich displays his usual capacity for creepiness but they're all drowned out by the nonsense going on around them. I heard they did significant reshoots but I would swear that they said, "Screw it," and decided to mix together old scenes that should have been deleted with the new stuff. Oddly, despite the lack of unused footage, the movie was a merciful 81 minutes. It just seemed longer. At least they left room for a sequel.


Christopher said...

With films like this, I wonder at what point the actors just toss up their hands and say "well, it's a paycheck." Or do they think it'll turn out great and the editor/director mess it up? I guess I never understand that.

But on the flip side, not everyday at my job is stellar either.

Michael Clear said...

A lot of movies look better on paper than they end up looking on film though sometimes the "paper" that tempts well known actors is a check with a lot of zeroes on it.