The ornery outlaw who lends his name to the disheveled DC comic-book movie adaptation Jonah Hex has a face so scarred that when he drinks, whiskey spills out of a hole in his right cheek. The sight is quite the conversation starter: How the heck did Hex (Josh Brolin) get so ugly? Trouble is, folks’ll get to dozing off as the movie answers the question with exactly the kind of nerdy, eye-crossing attention to arbitrary character traits and unlikely relationships that sucks the cinematic air out of so many comic-book movies.
Turns out Hex, a 19th-century bounty hunter suffering from Civil War PTS in a wardrobe purchased at the High Plains Drifter Club For Men, was mutilated by Confederate baddie Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich, sneering and lolling as he adds to his character list of psycho-crazies). Turnbull also murdered Hex’s family because Hex accidentally killed Turnbull’s own son. Who, don’t you know, was also Hex’s good friend. Now Hex wants revenge. Which suits President Ulysses S. Grant (Aidan Quinn) since Turnbull has become an anti-Union terrorist. But which bothers Hex’s loyal lady friend, Lilah (Megan Fox), a prostitute who clearly enjoys good skin care treatment in the neighborhood of her brothel.
None of ’em merit a fiddle-dee-dee.
Among Hex’s talents are the ability to raise a dead man from his grave long enough to have a chat, and the good manners to talk nicely to his horse. Brolin discharges his comic-book duties manfully (if by manful you mean with a perpetual, squint, growl, scar-tissued sneer, and a tendency to peer out below the brim of his hat like a cowboy Princess Di). But the star is done in by the deathless mediocrity of the production, an assemblage of random camera shots, messy editing, redundant scenes, and witless dialogue as haphazardly stitched together as the flesh on Jonah Hex?s face. D+