The beautiful face of Jonah Hex is one that has not been apart of my personal fandom for long, but since his appearance on Legends of Tomorrow, as well as recently having watched the 2010 movie on blu ray, I can honestly say he is a character I would love to read more about.
So let’s get on with the movie review. First of all, this is not a great movie, in fact some of the cast have even claimed to have regretted the film, with some claiming it to be their worst film in their career. That doesn’t mean that it’s a god awful film for the audience though. It’s still very watchable. Whilst I’ll be unable to comment on the film from a comic book accuracy point of view, I can comment on it from a film point of view, and what this film reminded me of was the early late 90’s / 2000’s action fantasy films, that all seemed to concentrate on special effects and quantity over quality.
The film had some great ideas of what it could have been, some of which were executed properly such as the backstory being told in comic book graphics which I really enjoyed. It was a nice way not only to tell the story, but to remind people (or introduce them to the fact) that the character and the world are based on comic book fantasy.
Josh Brolin was a great choice for the lead role, as he brought the tough, rugged, sharpshooting Hex to life from the page to the screen. He was a character that the audience sympathised with, because he had everything a comic book protagonist needed; a tragic backstory, a lone wolf persona, with a lonely soul beneath it, and not to mention the one friend with all the gadgets and tech he needs to complete his mission. Jonah Hex is a complete badass in the film, who is close to lawless but then again, it is set during the American Civil War, so there was a lot of lawless violence still occuring at that time. It’s because of that, that you can still feel sorry for Hex, because his life is drowned in violence and violence is all he knows, as well as being all his enemies know, so in some ways he has little choice if he wants to rid the world of these villains.
My second favourite actor highlight of the film would have to be Michael Fassbenders character, who is a psychopath, and great at it as well. His character was fun, creepy and very entertaining. I love Fassbender, to the point where I can happily say he is one of my favourite actors of all time. I’d enjoy seeing more of him in comic book films especially DC (yes I know he’s Magneto and I love him in that role but that’s Marvel and I need more DC live action characters).
Another aspect of the film I loved was that it was a vigilante film, or even a superhero film. It’s a story of revenge. The film wanted to be a gritty, violent, western film but didn’t quite hit the mark on all of those points, but the revenge story was spot on. The motive was clear, the destination was clear, the execution was just not so great. It tried too hard to be action packed and entertaining, but instead fell hard into the same problem as films like Wild Wild West (1999) because they tried to be cool and added in their own version of modern technology with the machine guns and weird glowing explosive cannonballs that reminded me of the dragon balls from Dragon Ball Z anime.
However, some of the fantasy elements really worked, such as the ability Jonah Hex has to talk to the dead. Whilst this was something I wanted to research a little more, I discovered this was an ability that was created just for the movie. The best part was, it wasn’t just a power he had that he could use constantly. It had rules and limitations. Jonah Hex must be touching the body that he is reviving to talk to them, but this revival isn’t permanent. There is a time limit on how long he can revive someone before they begin to burn and turn to ash. This essentially means that instead of an afterlife their extinguished from the world completely. This means that he cannot merely revive someone he didn’t want to die which makes the power a blessing and a curse which is what all power should feel like. This is was probably the best aspect of the film that made it feel like a comic book movie, which is why I was disappointed to discover it wasn’t an ability of his in the comics, but that doesn’t make me any less interested in reading more about Jonah Hex.
The costume and makeup design of the film was really well done, with the characters feeling like they belonged in the time period in which the film is set, as well as Brolin definitely looking like Jonah Hex from the animated appearances I’ve seen him in, so from a design stand point, the film looks fine, though a modern day upgrade would be great to see. I would not be disappointed to see Josh Brolin reprise the role, but if someone else was to take on the role, if a revamp was to be made, then it would be great to see the character brought to life either way.
Overall this film isn’t great but it certainly is worth a watch just to get an idea of some of the earlier DC films that had the right ideas but the wrong executions. Either way it makes for some great conversations about what a revamp of this character in a movie could be like if done right. Maybe the world will listen and maybe we’ll get what we hope for in the future. I am all for another Jonah Hex movie to be made, and I will be looking further into the comics to find out more about this mysterious sharpshooting character who has a face only a mother could love….or Megan Fox’s character apparently.