Jonah Hex has more problems than the film's tormented central character. It's a confusing and poorly shot adaptation of a minor comic book story that feels days longer than its scant 80-minute running time.
Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin) is a bounty hunter asked by President Ulysses S. Grant (Aidan Quinn) to stop post-Civil War terrorist Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich). Hex is up to the task because it was Turnbull who killed his family and left him with a horribly scarred face.
In a plot that feels as if it was originally planned for The Wild, Wild West 2, Hex must stop Turnbull from leveling Washington, D.C., with a massive new weapon.
The script by William Farmer, Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor is a jumble of supernatural elements, a love story and selective bits of the comic book. None of the parts are developed enough to be interesting.
It would have helped if Hex's origin hadn't been reduced to a cheesy animated sequence at the beginning. The Batman, Superman and Spider-Man back stories are such a part of pop culture that there's no need to rehash them. But Jonah Hex isn't a big part of comic book culture. The film should have been lengthened to reveal more about Hex before he became such a man of mystery.
The convoluted script might be why Brolin looks as if he's sleepwalking through the movie. His stiff acting is made worse by the makeup he wears to portray the scarred hero. He sounds as if he's doing a bad Sling Blade impersonation.
Megan Fox plays the only person Hex can confide in, a gun-toting prostitute named Lilah. Jonah Hex suggests that prostitution must have been a great profession in the 19th century — Lilah clearly has the best dental plan of anyone in the movie.
(Lexington native Michael Shannon has a bit part as a vaudevillian named Doc Cross Williams.)
Studios are always looking for the next great comic book-inspired franchise. It won't be Jonah Hex.