Most modern comic-book adaps hover somewhere past the two-hour mark.
Weird western Jonah Hex, on the other hand, reaches its merciful conclusion in a scant 81 minutes, credits included. That should be your first clue that all is not well.
Secondly, it’s based on a DC horror comic from the mid ’70s that no one, save for 40-something shut-ins, remembers.
Thirdly, the job of bringing the gruesome and hair-raising story of a disfigured, alcoholic bounty hunter cutting a bloody swath through the Old West to the screen has been placed in the hands of a Pixar animator whose previous helming gig was helming the bloodless Horton Hears A Who!
To quote Clint Eastwood’s Monco in For A Few Dollars More, you people need a new sheriff.
The ever-versatile Josh Brolin plays the mangled title character, a former soldier in the Civil War who was betrayed, crucified, mutilated and left for dead by the evil General Quentin Turnbull (a vampy John Malkovich).
He survives (barely), and is left further burdened by a newfound ability to communicate with the dead (enter Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s re-animated corpse). When the sinister General attempts to procure a mysterious doomsday weapon, the government hires Hex to stop him. A noisy, tiresome grudge match ensues.
Blame for this dismal, charmless horse opera can’t be placed on Brolin. He trudges through one yawn-worthy gun battle after another with steely-eyed determination, exactly the way the original Jonah would.
It’s everything else that wrecks the party – fitful stabs at ill-advised humour, poorly-lit night scenes, Will Arnett’s bizarre attempt at a straight role (as a Union lieutenant) and eye-rolling whiz-bang edits made to remind you that this mess was once a comic book.
The only bright spots are Megan Fox in a corset (as a tag-along prostitute) and Hex’s dynamite gun. Would that he’d let it rip on the other side of the camera...
Believe the anti-hype. Brolin aside, Hex is as hopeless as its dismal performance in the US suggests: loud, dreary and sadly misguided.