Archive for May 25th, 2014

Jonah-HexBefore I get started, I have to confess that before I watched this movie, I was prepared to hate it.  The reviews that I was aware of were brutal and punishing, and knowing the treatment that many DC characters had gotten on the big screen, it wasn’t difficult to believe that once again, the Hollywood treatment had messed up yet another in the comic company’s vast pantheon of heroes. I forgot that critics make their bones not by fair reviews, but by bruising ones.  Jonah Hex isn’t The Dark Knight, but it isn’t Green Lantern, either. First, let me say that I was surprised at who was in this movie.  I recall that when it came out, much was made of the inclusion of Megan Fox in the cast.  I’ve never been impressed with her acting skills, or the unscripted words to tumble from her lips, but neither one of those things is why she is cast in movies, and she appears to have been cast in this film for precisely the same reason.  John Malkovich plays the villain, a Confederate general who decided in the late days of the war that civilians were legitimate targets, and who killed Hex’s family in front of him after Hex disobeyed Malkovich’s order to blow up a hospital, and killed Malkovich’s son, who was also his best friend, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, after he drew on him.   Other familiar faces in the cast include Will Arnett, Michael Fasbender, and Adian Quinn. The movie opens with Hex, played by Josh Brolin, explaining how he found himself to be better at waging war than he had expected, until he’d made a decision to abide by his conscience, and what that decision had cost him.  That decision also left him with one foot still stuck in the afterlife, and the ability to talk to the dead…a skill that comes in handy in his post-war career as shadowy bounty hunter with a price on his own head.  We soon learn why his own head carries a price, as his aimless existence once again becomes focused when he learns from agents of the US government that the man who took everything from him, played by Malkovich, wasn’t dead after all, and with the aid of a doomsday weapon never built by the Federal government, means to finish the war with the destruction of Washington D.C. on the Fourth of July. The film proceeds to from confrontation to confrontation until Hex finally gets it right, and rids himself, and the world, of his old commanding officer, earning himself a pardon, and an interesting job offer, from the President, played by Aidan Quinn.  I enjoyed Josh Brolin’s portrayal of Hex, a disfigured man shaped by the brutality of war and the loss of his family, who seems at peace with the unusual ability to talk to the dead, and his quick and sometimes humorous responses to the dead, and to the living who are about to join them.  I am aware that this film is sometimes compared to the truly awful big screen adaptation of Wild, Wild West, which I can only assume is because of the doomsday weapon Malkovich intends to use against Washington D.C.   I understand the comparison, but it isn’t a fair one.   The acting is better, the script is more coherent, and Jonah Hex is paced much better than Wild, Wild West. In closing, this is not an edifying film.  You will not become a better person because you watched this movie.  It is not uplifting, although the ending makes clear that Hex understands that he has been given a second chance.  It won’t change your life, and you won’t rave to your friends about how great it is.  But it is a fun movie to watch while eating popcorn, and not taking it, or yourself, too seriously.

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