Jonah Hex fires blanks

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Jonah Hex

By Matt Brunson

JONAH HEX

*1/2

DIRECTED BY Jimmy Hayward

STARS Josh Brolin, Megan Fox

Strip Jonah Hex of its closing credits and we're looking at a movie that clocks in at approximately an hour and a quarter. Such a brief running time would be OK if the film arrived, got the job done, and left, but that's not the case. Instead, this adaptation of the DC Comics series is primarily sabotaged by a choppy, truncated style that suggests it was edited with the same fire-licked hatchet used to scar its protagonist's face.

Resembling nothing so much as a blown opportunity, Jonah Hex can at least boast of a well-chosen leading man in Josh Brolin and a few striking visuals that hint at a modicum of talent in director Jimmy Hayward (who previously only worked in animation, toiling for Pixar before helming Fox's Horton Hears a Who!). But the rest is a shameful mess, an obvious example of a film that was sliced and diced even after the cameras were rolling (original scripters Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have basically disowned the final product). The character of Jonah Hex is an interesting one — he's presented as a former Confederate soldier whose family was killed by the ruthless Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich in one of his laziest performances) and whose face was disfigured by the same man. Years later, now a wanted outlaw who somehow also doubles as a bounty hunter, Jonah is hired by President Ulysses S. Grant (Aidan Quinn) to stop Turnbull and his Tea Party-like followers from destroying the U.S. government with his doomsday device.

Jonah Hex is one big rush, but not in the positive sense. Characters appear and disappear at will (close your eyes for more than five seconds and you might miss Revolutionary Road's Michael Shannon), jumbled flashbacks tell us things we already knew or surmised, and stiff Megan Fox occasionally turns up as a tough hooker with a soft spot for our anti-hero. Frankly, Jonah has more chemistry with his horse.

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