DC is at it again spinning comic book heroes, or better yet anti-heroes, into film adaptations. Moreover, the company is maintaining their one-of-a-kind knack for providing lead characters with bad vocals. In this case the raspy voice belongs to the traumatized lead character, a Bounty Hunter named Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin), who has a story to tell, in brutal and confusing detail.
The film mixes the lore of the Old West, vaguely historical aspects of post-Civil War America, and weapons from a very steampunk-the-Industrial-Revolution. The resulting environment is more explosive than the dynamite that is apparently everywhere.
Filled with ideas that trail off into the dust, it quickly becomes clear that this film was finished in a rush. There are too many characters that lack compelling, if any, back-story. The tale that remains is disjointed and drags. All the buzz about the leading lady, Lilah (Megan Fox), was over minimal participation in the film. Sure she looks nice, and wears a steampunky outfit while performing a few quick stunts, but the resulting character (and poor acting) is not worth the media hype.
The few well-played and interesting characters, aside from the brash but tends-to-grow-on-you Jonah, all have bit parts. Among the best performances are Hex’s best friend, Jeb Turnbull (Jeffery Dean Morgan), one of President Grant’s cohorts, Lieutenant Grass (Will Arnett), and the store owner and gun-runner, Smith (Lance Riddick). Most surprising is that the frequent scenes with screen veteran John Malkovich, as lead bad guy Quentin Turnbull, result in a drab uninterested character that completely fails to engage the audience. It is almost a shockingly poor performance for Malkovich.
But hey, the melding of comic book history with actual film shots in the beginning was some of the best work out there for explaining a complex and multi-media adapted back-story. Additionally, the bold uses of color, costume, sets and scenery made the film visually interesting to watch. But with a budget as big as this film had it is hard to accept there wasn’t a better story to tell.
2.5 out of 5 stars