Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of finishing post and releasing my 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week 135: Jonah Hex
I’d love to see a successful, smart comic book-style Western and as much potential as Jonah Hex had to be that film, it just isn’t it. For various reasons, the film under-delivers while still possessing some fun elements.
Let’s start with the good. Brolin is just about bulletproof when it comes to still being good in bad movies. Just like the terrible Gangster Squad, he remains the infinitely watchable even while movies crumble around him. Malkovich, though not used to his full potential, is quite fun as the villain. I’d love to see more of him in this genre, with a better script of course. And then there are more fantastical elements of the concept that work well such as Jonah’s connection with the underworld. These scenes are some of the strongest and most interesting of the film, mostly because they take the genre to a place it rarely goes. Finally, the music by Mastodon is great, a totally unique score never heard in a Western before.
Now for the bad… Megan Fox may look good but she bores the hell out of me. I found her presence to be entirely dull. To be truly sexy in a movie, you can’t just look hot; you have to also be smart and act well. Though I’m probably in the minority on this one, I did not like the casting of Michael Fassbender. Though he’s a terrific actor, he’s just not right to play a heavy like this. He’s a leading man, a hero, who would have been a better fit for Jonah Hex than he is for this deranged villain.
But what really doesn’t work for this film is the script. It’s weak narrative just doesn’t hold up, perhaps because of misguided direction. It’s no surprise to read Brolin’s report that the production was a mess. Apparently, a good portion of the movie was reshot because of bad planning. It’s a shame too because they had a great character on their hands and definitely blew it.
Watched on Tubi.