Why review or even talk about a movie as critically and publicly slammed as “Jonah Hex”? Especially a couple years after its release where most have either forgotten it or choose to believe it never existed in the first place? It’s simple really, combined with its surprisingly outstanding cast, its comic book connections and its notoriously convoluted production history, this is a film that begs to be revisited. Hailing from a relatively unknown DC Comics character which infused supernatural elements into a hardened western framework, “Jonah Hex” is a film that by all accounts should have worked, at least in a fun throwaway manner. But when watching it, it is nearly impossible to figure out what went wrong or if anything could have been done to save it?
No other movie in recent memory has had quite the roller coaster ride in production hell as “Jonah Hex”. According to Cinematical.com, the history of “Jonah Hex” is nearly as tragic as the film itself, almost. Beginning back in 2007 (3 years before the film was released), red flags should have already been raised with the two men who were to write and direct the film, Neveldine and Taylor of “Crank” fame (and more recently, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”) left the project. Later after bringing on an unproven director, there were extensive reshoots done to apparently “fix” the finished films many problems by bringing in yet another director and casting new actors and introducing brand new characters not part of the original script. The film had quickly become this abomination of different ideas of which none were very good and then pasted together to put something out that could make back some of their money.
With that tattered history and over two years worth of mental preparation for a horrid cinematic experience in mind, “Jonah Hex” isn’t the train wreck you might think. There is some mild enjoyment to be had with the film despite its large assortment of problems. Josh Brolin as the title character is fun in the role and gives plenty of winks and nods while never becoming cartoonish. John Malkovich is as entertaining as ever, if not completely wasted, in an obvious phone-in performance. A surprise appearance by Michael Fassbender proves to be the biggest highlight in the film with a fine villainous turn as one of Malkovich’s henchmen. A mish mash of other unexpected faces also pop up throughout its exceedingly short runtime (an hour and ten minutes minus the end credits), such as Wes Bently, Will Arnet and Michael Shannon in probably the smallest role (a few seconds of screentime) for any high profile actor in a non-cameo role ever, which helped make it the expereience slightly more tolerable.
However, don’t let any of that faint praise fool you, all one need do is look at the casting of Megan Fox as the hooker with a heart of gold to discover that something is rotten in Denmark. The actress continues to provide ample proof that it was not her acting prowess that landed her that first role in Michael Bay’s disasterpiece “Transformers”. This is a bad film regardless of who is in it, who worked on it and what lineage it has as a cult DC comic book. Those reshoots and mass cuts made in the editing room has reduced this poor excuse for entertainment into one of the most baffling cinematic atrocities to ever get a full theatrical release as a tent pole summer film.
Some might say that those cuts that reduced its to a length to that of most television episodes was an act of mercy on the part of the studio for those unfortunate enough to lay eyes upon it, however its many plot holes and incoherent character motives seem only magnified by a lack of context that was most likely left on the editing room floor (the DVD and Blu-ray have absolutely no extra features or deleted scenes which seems odd for a film put under the knife as much as this one was). While the truth of the matter is that “Jonah Hex” is not the worst movie ever made, it is still pretty horrible and not worth an ounce of your time. If you have a morbid curiosity towards it (as this reviewer did) then wait for it to hit television and see what you think of it then, otherwise avoid it like the plague.