If I had to sum up Jonah Hex in a sentence, it would go something like this: it’s like a convergence of horrible ideas at the intersection of Trainwreck and Disaster. It’s every bit as bad as everyone says it is. Plus interest. I doubt it was any longer than two minutes into the movie before I already was shaking my head furiously, filled with nothing disgust, frustration and anger. And I have none but myself to blame for subjecting to this torture. As a fair warning, this will mostly be ranting because I happen to be a fan of the comic and nothing is worse than seeing an adaptation like this that butchers the source material so badly that it’s barely recognizable.
Sometimes I can’t just understand Hollywood. You have a character who’s entire gimmick is being an infamously cold blooded and ruthless bounty hunter, with an iconic, disfigured face and a brutal sense of right and wrong, operating in the wild west after having fought on the losing side in the American Civil war, and your idea for movie starring this same character is to take a script that reads like a horribly cliché ridden, generic as hell story about a loose cannon cop trying to stop an evil terrorist from nuking the nation’s capital and just retrofit it to take place in the 19th century? That’s the best you could come up with? Try to turn it into a run of the mill action story? Not take cues from modern western classics like Open Range, The Unforgiven or hell, even Seraphim Falls? But instead to do a western version of a really schlocky Die Hard sequel?
What really got under my skin was that the plot device for the terrorist attack is this egregiously out of place, ill-defined steampunk super weapon which in practical terms is just a giant gun strapped atop of a ship, and it shoots these weird, orange glowing balls that upon impact detonate like they were small scale nukes. No explanation is ever given just how anyone was able to make it in the 19th century, other than it was a genius engineer, nor exactly what the orange balls are made of. They just exist because the plot needs to have some kind of a cataclysmic device that nefariously goes boom really loudly, and good old TNT apparently is not cinematic enough for a comic book movie. Honestly, half of this movie felt like it was made by the same guys behind Wild Wild West. That’s the level of stupidity and ridiculousness we’re talking about here. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had originally intended the gun to be a giant mecha spider or something along those lines before somebody realized they already had done. Oh, you don’t believe me? At the end of the movie, Ulysses S. Grant actually gives Hex a giant Sheriff star and asks him to, I kid you not, become the Sheriff of the entire United States of America, because he saved America. For the love of God, Legendary Pictures. Do you have any idea how stupid that sounds?
And it just keeps worse the further you dive into the movie. There is so much stuff here that feels like they were just throwing everything and the kitchen sink to the wall to see what might stick, in desperate attempt to spice things up enough so that geeks might be interested in seeing the movie. One such thing is giving Hex magic powers so he can talk to dead people. Why? I dunno, because he’s a comic book character I guess and you need comic book-y things to happen in the trailer? All this ability is good for is to work as a super lazy way for the plot to move forward whenever Hex needs a clue where the bad guy is currently located. To be fair, there is at least a half-assed attempt in trying to add more to this when Hex resurrects one of his old comrades from the grave and has a chat with him, or when he brings back Michael Fassbender’s character right after having killed him to deliver more punishment for his crimes as he was responsible for killing Hex’s family, but if anything these just underline how lost the people making the movie were because none of it clicks or feels organic.
Another really obnoxious thing is all the steampunk emulating special guns that were heavily featured in the trailer and promotional materials, like the posters. Who actually thought having dual Gatling guns attached to a horse was a good idea? Or a gun that basically shoots exploding arrowheads? These contraptions serve no purpose other than look “cool” in the specific action set pieces where each of these ridiculous gimmicky weapons get used for like ten seconds worth of screen time and they have the exact opposite effect from the desired result. Nobody found them to be cool or interesting, people just took one look and laughed at how bad the movie looked.
And don’t even get me started with Megan Fox. She’s a walking plot device, only in the story because they need to have Hex conveniently get captured by the bad guys in the third act, only for two minutes later escape from captivity and then, lastly, have a tomahawk handed to him at the appropriate time so that he can stop the doomsday device from destroying Washington just before it is too late. Her character was nothing but a horribly tacked on glorified cameo, having almost nothing to call a character beyond that of a painfully one dimensional badass 19th century prostitute caricature. The fact they tried to latch some last minute fan service by revealing casually that she’s meant to be Tallulah Black from the comics just adds insult to injury for the five comic fans who saw this garbage of a movie.
On a more positive note, as much as I hated this movie, it to my big surprise never made me want to gouge my eyeballs out of their sockets or slit my wrists. It’s entirely watchable tier bad. Not in the so bad that it’s good territory, because the movie does actively piss you off and never achieves anything remotely enjoyable cheesiness, but at least it’s a short movie and each passing minute does not fee like eternity. It’s just really, really dumb. So dumb that it still gets your blood boiling just thinking about it after the fact. You find yourself wanting feel a grudge against the movie, which is entirely irrational, but there you go. It’s irredeemable rubbish that makes you feel ashamed that you ever bothered to spend time watching it.