Comic books are where two dimensional characters meet one-dimensional stories. Movies about them are problematic. With no depth to borrow from, and like a comic book, most flounder along a colorful frame at a time and depend on effects and name stars to carry the film.
Once in awhile, though, one accidentally works.
Jonah Hex is that accident. It’s a horror story imbedded into a Western. Not a good mix of genres but not a bad one either. Set just after the Civil War, it covers the origin of the D.C. comic character who has the ability to talk to the dead and pretty much can’t be killed. He’s a bounty hunter seeking revenge on the man who brutally killed his family and branded him on the face forever making him a monstrous freak.
Josh Brolin plays Hex and works his voice way down low and gives it a Sam Elliot drawl. The voice alone gives the character credibility. Most of the film has Hex zig-zagging through the country killing this bad guy or that and trying to keep John Malkovich’s villain from blowing up Washington D.C.
Futuristic gadgets Wild, Wild West style dot the film’s landscape. Hex has Gatling guns mounted on each side of his saddle. Pistols with crossbows attached become a six-shooter flinging dynamite at bad guys. And on it goes. No surprises.
Brolin and Malkovich have fun with their characters and few are better at villainy than Malkovich.
Talentless babe Megan Fox (Transformers) plays a hooker hooked on Hex. She is jammed into the plot more or less as eye candy and as the catalyst for the plot solution. That could be deliberate. The lady can’t act. A less-expensive face or a mannequin could have done the part but neither has Fox’s box office appeal.
Not that the film needs it. This is comic book territory and has a built-in audience anyway. You won’t be blown away but if it’s your thing, you will be entertained.
Rated PG-13 for violence and mature themes, it opens Friday, June 18th at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.