|Bow Chicka Bow Wow|
The film Jonah Hex follows the story of, well, Jonah Hex, a Confederate soldier turned bounty hunter with a taste for violence, vengeance, Native Americans, the supernatural (he was awakened from the grave by the aforementioned Native Americans and now has the ability to communicate with the dead. Pretty neato, huh?), and holds an apparent disregard for the government and society in general. One day, Hex is informed that his old nemesis, a man named Quentin Turnbull, is not quite as dead as he would have hoped and is back to create some mischief … in other words destroy the United States. (After the Confederacy lost during the Civil War, this Yankee hater decided to go all old-school terrorist and kick some serious Union tail end.) Incidentally, Turnbull happens to be the same man who killed Hex’s family in retaliation for his own son’s death and thus is the perfect target for some fancy gun-slinging.
The problem is that Jonah Hex, which could at this point have become a fairly intriguing, mystical, and historically-revisionist Western, quickly ends up being, instead, little more than a clunky, soul-less mess.
Following the discovery of Turnbull, the movie settles into a tedious and repetitive cycle: Hex heading to a new location, Hex having a muddled and uninteresting conversation with a new character in order to lay down exposition, Hex growling and spitting out a cheesy one liner, and finally Hex shooting down anything moving within the surrounding area. Rinse and repeat.
Occasionally this cycle is interrupted by Megan Fox performing as Lilah, a prostitute and the titular character’s current love interest. Lilah, like the majority of the supporting cast, has virtually no personality, and it is never explained why she and Hex have any sort of connection whatsoever. It is strange, too, that this character, along with her bizarre and arbitrary romance with Hex, is featured so heavily in a film about a man trying to avenge his dead wife. But oh well. Fox’s presence gives something for the teenage fan boys to gawk at and, besides, who has the time to develop believable relationships and solid characterization nowadays? There are more fight scenes to get to!
Once Jonah Hex’s end comes, it feels abrupt, and it is a wonder considering the rest of its 83 minutes manages to drag on for what seems like a much longer period of time. Not that this really matters. None of the characters appear to care much one way or another about how their own tale turns out. For example, when Turnbull and his villainous scheme (which, by the way, is to gather a whole bunch of glowing orbs invented by Eli Whitney which act as atomic cannonballs, and then launch them straight towards the Washington Monument and the Capitol building during the 4th of July. No, this unfortunately is not a joke.) meet their demise, it is with a sense of weary resignation rather than defiance or anger. Hex doesn’t get particularly worked up either. After accomplishing his goal of defeating Turnbull, he goes right back to bounty hunting without a second thought or having changed or grown even one iota. In one scene, Hex temporarily resurrects Turnbull’s deceased son, who was the original source of most of the film’s conflict, in order to gain information. The son admits that he couldn’t give a toss who ultimately wins in the battle between Hex and Turnbull. Subsequently, neither does the audience. The only real sensation that the viewer is likely to experience while watching Jonah Hex is a sense of tired indifference. Dual horse-mounted turret guns and a literal boatload of explosives don’t even succeed in injecting energy into the film. President Ulysses S. Grant during a meeting with Jonah Hex says that “America needs a sheriff.” Maybe this is true, but Hex is definitely not the man for the job.
Official YAMB Grade: Dislike
Nate Slauer Grade:
Aesthetics (visuals, sound, etc.): B-
Overall Grade: C+