You know that a film is going to be something of a waste of brain space when it finishes and you think to yourself, "Damn, "Wild Wild West" with Will Smith was better". Unfortunately that's the thought I had at the end of comic book inspired "Jonah Hex". What should have been a fun romp through over-the-top-ville turns out to be an unfocused cut and paste film that seemingly has no urgency to it and it ruins a rather good concept. "Jonah Hex" might be as bad as many of the critic's reviews said it was.
Jonah Hex (Brolin) wanders the wild west as a bounty hunter of limitless skills and unearthly abilities lost as a world slowly changes around him. When his nemesis Turnbull (Malkovich) appears again, not dead as Hex assumed, he is hired by President Grant and the US government to find him and put an end to some sort of dastardly plan he has in store. With the help of his pseudo-girlfriend/prostitute friend Lilah (Fox) he goes on a quest to kill the man that took his family before he has a chance to restart the Civil War.
After thinking about this film for a while (way too long for this review I assure you), I've come to the conclusion that the main problem with "Jonah Hex" is that it has no idea what it wants to be. It want's mass appeal so it waters itself down and limits its darker elements but it still wants to be edgy so it retains some odd moments of violence and darker streaks. It want's to be funny and oddball so it throws in one liners, but it tries to retain a very serious underlying tone of why the Civil War was such an atrocity. It wants to be a comic book, but it never wants to be cartoonish.
Its these inconsistencies in its focus that really make it...well...boring. There is no urgency to its plot and no focus to its execution. It just simply clusters itself into incoherency. It never embraces any of its elements. It's written by the guys that did the "Crank" series and "Gamer" for goodness' sake! Embrace its over the top dark streaks and really go for broke! Don't doddle on this kiddie shit! Make it dark. Make it violent. Make it what it should have truly been.
Luckily, it does have some solid action pieces to spice it up occasionally and Brolin's performance is solid (although the rumored Tom Jane for the role might have been even better), but the rest of the characters are seriously under-developed and the plot seriously understated. The few solid things that this film could have had are undermined in these ways.
"Jonah Hex" is definitely one of the biggest disappointments of the year. With the rather slick story and comics it was based on, this film should have been cake to deliver. With its unfocused energy and rather bumbling executions though, its just one failed element right after another.
BONUS RANT: What the fuck is with 'the snake man' in the fighting pit? That scene was completely wasted and although they seemed to be building on Hex being through in to fight him, it fails to fulfill on its teases of more other-worldly hi-jinx. One more cool idea completely shit upon by the film's lack of focus.
Written By Matt Reifschneider