John Malkovich, Josh Brolin, Michael Fassbender, and Megan Fox in Jonah Hex (2010)


(director: Jimmy Hayward; screenwriters: Neveldine and Taylor/based on a story by William Farmer, Neveldine and Taylor, and the comic books written by John Albano, illustrated by Tony DeZuniga and published by DC Comics; cinematographer: Mitchell Amundsen; editors: Fernando Villena/Tom Lewis; music: Marco Beltrami and Mastodon; cast: Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex), John Malkovich (Quentin Turnbull), Megan Fox (Lilah), Michael Fassbender (Burke), Will Arnett (Lieutenant Grass), John Gallagher Jr. (Lieutenant Evan), Tom Wopat (Colonel Slocum), Michael Shannon (Doc Cross Williams), Wes Bentley (Adleman Lusk), Aidan Quinn (President Grant); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Akiva Goldsman/Andrew Lazar; Warner Bros.; 2010)

Who needs a story that makes sense when it’s only camp that you’re after?

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Who needs a story that makes sense when it’s only camp that you’re after? Animation vet director Jimmy Hayward (“Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who!”) makes his live action debut an unremarkable one and gives his titular hero, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin), a comic book cartoonish toughness and a flare for the supernatural. The wacky Western, which looks like its been shot by someone on an acid trip, begs that the viewer “suspend his disbelief,” find some comparison with Clint in those antihero ‘no name’ spaghetti westerns and graciously find the bad filmmaking in tune with the other summer blockbuster action films released (the easiest of the three conditions to accept as mission accomplished). The only thing that kept me awake was Brolin’s eye-catching makeup, John Malkovich’s venomous turn as the villain and Michael Fassbender’s quirky portrayal of an incompetent Irish sadist assassin with chin tattoos. I was also curiously kept on my toes to see if Megan Fox’s heaving bosom would bust out of her tight gown, as she plies her trade as a prostitute.

The disposable film is loosely based on the DC Comics Hex adventure series that originated in the early 1970s. I’ve never read the comic book, but have to believe it’s a lot better than the movie. Writers Neveldine and Taylor abandoned the project and wished to have their names removed from the credits, which led to problems holding up the film’s release.

Jonah Hex is a Confederate Civil War vet out for vengeance against Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), the lunatic Rebel colonel who tried him for desertion and being the reason his soldier son Jeb was killed and that it was cowards like Hex that explains why the South lost the war. Thereby the baddie Turnbull burns to death Jonah’s wife and son and brands his face so he will always be disfigured to remember he betrayed the cause.

Jonah is cut down from a tree he was tied to by Indians, and goes on to enjoy life in the West as an ugly but ruthless bounty hunter. His comfortable lifestyleis interrupted when President Grant (Aidan Quinn) recruits him as a bounty hunter to bring down Turnbull, who hates the country so much he resorts to terrorism and has stolen a secret super-weapon that just might bring America to its knees on the eve of its centennial as it will be used to destroy Washington D.C..Grant believes that only Hex can save the country because he hates Turnbull more than any other living person in America and therefore would do anything to bring him down. We’re reminded that vengeance requires two coffins, one for the intended victim and the other for the one seeking vengeance.

The inventive Hex outfits his horse with Gatling guns and also has the ability to briefly raise and converse with the dead, which reminded me of an Abbott and Costello bit (whose silly films seem more serious and also more funny than this one).