Friday, 10 June 2011

Jonah Hex

JONAH HEX (2010)

Directed by
: Jimmy Hayward
Screenplay: Neveldine/Taylor
Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender

"War and me took to each other real well."

Ok, I'm just gonna go right ahead and say it: I enjoyed Jonah Hex. For all its faults, watered down thrills and the fact it has been cut down to barely just an hour and ten minutes of running time, Jonah Hex is stylish comic book fun. Lambasted, torn apart and spit on (not to mention appearing in cinemas for barely any longer than its actual running time) by the fan boy community and critical establishment, Jonah Hex nary had a chance at success. Not to mention a studio that seemed to get cold feet at this being a violent and fairly adult comic book movie thus cutting the running time down to nothing and toning down all the violence and black magic mumbo jumbo. But despite all that was stacked against it, Jimmy Hayward's (who seems to be copping a lot of flack for the film's failures) flick is actually a western/horror/comic book hoot.

Maybe it's just that my expectations were low due to the critical drubbing or I'm just overly sympathetic to films that take a pounding (as I seem to be enjoying films that everyone else hates more and more!) but Jonah Hex gave me a groovy comic book fix while upping the western trappings to entertaining effect. At it's heart, and perhaps due in part to much of the film ending up on the cutting room floor, the flick is just a simple revenge story of Hex (Brolin) going after the killers of his family (Malkovich, Fassbender) who also left him disfigured, dying and with a nifty side effect of being able to talk to the dead. Throw in a few supernatural elements, some quality action and Megan Fox (who's role also seems to have got the trim) in a corset and Jonah Hex is, well, pretty decent.

Yes, the flick is all kinds of ludicrous (but it is a comic book western after all), lacks logic and even coherency on occasion and due to all the shorn footage a great supporting cast is completely wasted: Aiden Quinn has all of two scenes, likewise Wes Bentley, Will Arnett is barely used and the great Michael Shannon has had his part cut back so much he now has a blink-and-you'll-miss-him appearance, complete with one line of dialogue (but bizarrely still gets a main credit recognition!). Malkovich also phones it in but Fassbender is ace as a nutty, tattooed Irishmen hell bent on killing and blowing shit up: but just isn't in it enough. While the mix of western and supernatural doesn't always work, it's a neat concept meaning there a few cool beasties in there (the snakeman!) and Hex even has a scrap with a reanimated corpse (a cool cameo from Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Plus, we get horses with machine guns strapped to their sides, Hex puking up a crow (!) and a barnstorming set-piece involving the hijack and destruction of a train which shows Hayward can handle the action as well as all the weirdness.

Nicely shot and with a searing soundtrack (courtesy in part by Mastadon), Jonah Hex rockets along and with all its over-the-topness and bonkers action, often feels like a long lost blockbuster from the 1990s. Maybe I'm singing its praises too much (as by the end it does kinda fumble into a chaotic mess) but with so much hate flung at this flick, I was surprised at how enjoyable it actually was. It may bare only a passing resemblance to the source material (and for fans of that, it's understandable why they may not like the flick) but Jonah Hex is an enjoyable ride with some tight action, a great performance from Brolin and, refreshingly, a sense of humour (and that is something to be thankful for).

Hell (and I know I'm in the minority here), I liked it.

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