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Jonah Hex (2010)

by on 2011/01/04

Man, I love Westerns.

This Western has big guns. Huge guns, in fact. A dead-shot, ugly cowboy bound for hell. A train robbery. Feisty saloon girls. Talking dead men.

Jonah Hex is a Goth-friendly Western if ever there was.

Based on the DC Comics Western series of the same name, Jonah Hex is a damned, horribly mutilated bounty hunter. Hex (Josh Brolin) was once a Confederate solider who defied his commanding officer’s order to burn a hospital to the ground and was rewarded by having his entire family killed in front of him. 

His commander Quentin Turnbull, played by sneering, languid John Malkovich, further heaps on the sorrow by branding Hex’ face with his QT monogram and leaving Hex to die. Hex is however saved by Crow Indians who nurse him back to health but not before he had already crossed over into death.

The time that Hex spent between life and death gives him the helpful ability to commune with the dead. “Talking to dead folks ain’t natural, but sometimes they are the only ones who will point the way.”

A first order of business after he revives, Hex removes the hateful brand on his cheek with a hot blade, leaving him with a ” half-cooked pie hole” – as one colourful Irish villain calls it. Bent on revenge, Hex sets out to kill Turnbull but is disappointed to learn the sociopathic monster died in a hotel fire. Looking for an outlet for his seething hatred, Hex takes his extensive talents in killing to the bounty hunting biz.

With dead men piling up all around him, Hex has but two allies in life. One is his horse, named “Horse,” and the other is the perpetually sweating Lilah (Megan Fox), a crusty working girl with only one soft spot – Hex. The camera does indeed love Ms. Fox, she’s lovely as always. And did I mention sweaty?

Happily for the viewer, reports of Turnbull’s death were greatly exaggerated. We get to see absinthe-chugging Malkovich really evil up the screen. It turns out Quentin Turnbull’s on the hunt for a super weapon, “a nation killer” capable of destroying entire cities. And like a stereotypical villain in an old-time melodrama,  Malkovich warns that “on the fourth of July, America will know hell.”

Overall, it must be said that this is a great-looking movie. One of the opening scenes shows us Hex dragging three corpses into an isolated desert town. This sequence is, in its way, positively gorgeous.

Unfortunately for me (as I am one of the lonely ones who liked this film), the whole thing felt a bit rushed. As Wallace said to Crash and the Boys in Scott Pilgrim,” this isn’t a race.”

Directed by Jimmy Hayward, there are some really interesting moments in this 82-minute film that fuses my two favourite things, Westerns and the spooky supernatural. It was great to see the always interesting Aidan Quinn as President Grant, Dukes of Hazzard TVseries star Tom Wopat as ex-Colonel Slocum, and the hilarious Will Arnett in a cameo as Army Lieutenant Grass.

While the sprint through Jonah Hex was fun and bracing, it left me wanting more. With many, many Goth-friendly elements including corsets, ravens spewing from dying men’s mouths, dark, hard-driving soundtrack and reanimated corpses, Jonah Hex gets my nod.

* * *

PG-13 violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content

82 minutes

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