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'Hex' brands itself unmemorable, dumb

ENTER MOVIE-HEX 1 MCT
Megan Fox, left, as Lilah and Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex star in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Legendary Pictures' action adventure "Jonah Hex," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. (Jamie Trueblood/Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures/MCT)

In a comic fan’s perfect world every superhero would be given the right to appear on the big screen. The sad truth is some characters from the DC and Marvel Comics’ universes make for more interesting screen protagonists than others.

Batman, Superman, Iron Man and Spider-Man reign supreme at the top. Jonah Hex on the other hand, is more toward the bottom with Ghost Rider, Constantine and the Hulk.

Without a doubt, the character has a strong fan base and perhaps some will enjoy his big film debut, but I forgot all about this chestnut-haired, brooding antihero the minute I walked out of the theater.

Josh Brolin plays Jonah Hex, who once lived an honest and simple life until he accidentally killed the son of the corrupt Quentin Turnbull, played by John Malkovich. To even the score, Turnbull burns down Hex’s house with his wife and son inside. If that wasn’t enough, Turnbull severely brands Hex’s right cheek to forever remind him of the man who took away everything.

Hex eventually tracks down Turnbull and avenges the death of his family. With nothing left for Hex he naturally becomes a bounty hunter living outside the law and rides alone.

For a while it looked like Brolin was destined to become a washed-up former child star, not doing much since he played Brand in “The Goonies.” In recent years Brolin has made a significant comeback in movies like “No Country For Old Men” and “Milk,” which he received a deserved Oscar nomination for.

In “Jonah Hex” Brolin does what he can with the tormented character. There are times in the movie when Brolin exemplifies the persona of a young Harrison Ford.

In fact, there’s one bar scene in which Jonah Hex shoots a drunk then pays the bartender for the mess a la Han Solo in “Star Wars.” This is a good performance from Brolin; it’s just too bad he isn’t given a very interesting character to work with.

The closest relationship Hex has is with a prostitute named Lilah, played by Megan Fox – aka “the greatest actress of the cinema.” Fox looks just a little too luminous and clean in this movie to be an old Western whore. She has the appearance of a contemporary supermodel playing dress up.

The American government calls in Jonah Hex to bring down a terrorist in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Hex is unwilling until he learns the person planning the attack is Turnbull, who somehow survived their last encounter.

Fortunately, Hex has developed the power to communicate with corpses, which help him track down Turnbull.

The problem with “Jonah Hex,” despite its impractical premise, is the film takes itself far too seriously.

I really must apologize for this criticism because I’ve made the same complaint with other recent action movies like “G.I. Joes: Rise of Cobra” and “10,000 B.C.”

But why play a film like “Jonah Hex” with a poker face? Seeing how the plot is already so preposterous and the film stars the very funny Will Arnet in a strait performance, why not give “Jonah Hex” a little more down-to-earth humor? But I suppose if the filmmakers had gone too over-the-top we could have gotten another “Wild, Wild West.” Yikes!

The movie does have its moments of wit such as when Hex delivers three dead bodies and a severed head, saying the rest of the fourth man was too fat to carry. But much of the picture feels mechanical and mundane. At only 80 minutes, “Jonah Hex” isn’t overbearingly long. The film is stylized and without any offensive violence.

The entire experience is just unmemorable and kind of dumb.

Reach Nick at nspake@asu.edu


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