‘Jonah Hex’ vexed by lame script, puny powers

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Friday, June 18, 2010 8:51pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

With a script as messed up as its hero’s face, “Jonah Hex” throws a serious cow pie at Hollywood’s love affair with comic books. This one is dead on arrival.

Josh Brolin plays Jonah Hex, a DC Comics character with a distinct superpower: Having once been half-dead himself, he can confer with the departed.

Displays of this talent are just about the only inventive part of the movie (Jonah lays his hands on a cadaver, and the lifeless corpse springs to life for a brief conversation).

Scarred across his face by villainous Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich, looking disgusted with himself), bounty hunter Jonah, of course, seeks revenge.

He has tender feelings for a prostitute (Megan Fox, of “Transformers” notoriety), who keeps turning up at opportune moments.

Just about the only person who seems to have gotten out of bed each morning with an actual desire to work on the film is Michael Fassbender, late of “Inglourious Basterds,” who gleefully throws himself in the role of Turnbull’s wicked Irish sidekick.

You can’t really blame Josh Brolin for his lifeless performance in the central role. With an elaborate prosthetic scar covering one side of his face, turning his mouth into a permanently gaping rictus, Brolin can barely get his lines out.

And what lines. The script, partly by “Crank” authors Neveldine and Taylor (they prefer last-name billing), is an exceptionally dull tale of Turnbull’s pursuit of a super weapon allegedly designed by cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney, which will reduce Washington, D.C., to rubble.

President Ulysses Grant is played by Aidan Quinn, who seems a little skittish for the legendary fighting general. And then there’s Megan Fox, who looks (most likely due to post-production digital smoothing) like a wax figure.

I was going to say “a wax figure come to life,” but that would be overly generous.

But with this material and director Jimmy Hayward’s can’t-sit-still style, even Meryl Streep wouldn’t make an impression. This film never gets a foothold in story, mood or character: you know, the basic stuff of your average movie.

When it comes to facial-scar prosthetics, however, this is absolutely top-notch work. Fans of such things, take note.

“Jonah Hex”

Dead-on-arrival adaptation of a DC comic book, about a western bounty hunter (Josh Brolin) seeking revenge against the scoundrel (John Malkovich) who done him wrong. Dull to a fault, the movie comes to life only when Jonah uses his powers to talk the dead. Megan Fox co-stars.

Rated: PG-13 for violence, language

Showing: Alderwood mall, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville Stanwood, Meridian, Metro, Oak Tree Plaza, Woodinville

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