June 16th, 2010 | by AARON MESH News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP

Why So Down in the Mouth, Pardner?: Jonah Hex Reviewed

The Josh Brolin paranormal kinda-Western wasn't screened for critics until tonight, but here's a review.

Jonah Hex

Jonah Hex

WW Critic's Score: 28

The closing credits of Jonah Hex will tell you that Michael Shannon, the terrific sneerer from Revolutionary Road and The Runaways, is the fifth-billed actor in the movie. Having sat through the 80 minutes that precede these credits, I will tell you that Shannon manifests for exactly one three-second shot, barks a line as a circus ringmaster, then disappears. At least I don't think he shows up again. The film is very aggressively edited, and I blinked from time to time. I would say Shannon was the lucky one, but the other performers in Jonah Hex don't seem to have put in very long days either. On evidence, we know Josh Brolin had to sit in a makeup chair long enough to have a wattle of burnt flesh stuck to the right side of his mouth.

A comic book halfheartedly applied to the medium of cinema, Jonah Hex plays like the introductory montage for the Red Dead Redemption video game—only not nearly as good. It is not even a Western: Most of it takes place in the former Confederate states shortly after the Civil War. At least I think it's the South. There are magnolias, and red clay, but sometimes there are also deserts. Either some geography is happening here that I don't know about, or Brolin's horse is putting in some phenomenal work. Anyway, I'm quibbling: The important point is that it's about as authentically Southern as a plate of Chili's Honey-Chipotle Chicken Crispers.

Brolin plays a former Johnny Reb who got very close to the grave, and thus is on speaking terms with the occupants. Not a bad conceit, but in execution it means that Jonah Hex is sometimes a supernatural horror show, other times an oater, and always in a godawful hurry to get to the next thing—so much of a hurry that the climactic fight scene is spliced with another, imaginary fight scene that director Jimmy Hayward hopes we might find more interesting. This movie doesn't know where it is. It doesn't know what it is. It barely exists.

The cinematography is richly saturated, and the special effects budget large enough to smear a digital sheen on Megan Fox's face and provide a crow popping out of Brolin's mouth, but the expense of shooting the performers long enough to finish a sentence was apparently too much to bear. And here is where the influence of comic books and music videos is tangibly degrading cinema: Bad movies are now so stylized and chopped that there's no room for actors to hijack them. John Malkovich is around, in amazingly bad curls, Inglourious Basterd Michael Fassbender has neck tattoos, and Will Arnett is an Army lieutenant, but all of them are chopped to ribbons by four editors. Or maybe Jonah Hex's badness signifies nothing more than its own badness: The picture has four editors, for pity's sake. It's as if they were trying to cut the thing out of being. But that they had succeeded. PG-13.

Opens Friday at Century 16 Cedar Hills Crossing, Century at Clackamas Town Center, Century Eastport 16, Cinema 99 Stadium 11, Cinemas Bridgeport Village Stadium 18&IMAX, Cinetopia, City Center Stadium 12, Cornelius 9 Cinemas, Lloyd Center Stadium 10 Cinema, Movies On TV Stadium 16, Oak Grove 8 Cinemas, Pioneer Place Stadium 6, Sandy Cinemas, Tigard 11 Cinemas, Wilsonville Stadium 9 Cinema.
 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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