Still Life Left In Jonah Hex?

Still Life Left In Jonah Hex?

Static Mass Rating: 2/5
JONAH HEX (Blu-ray)

Release date: December 27th 2010
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 81 minutes

Director: Jimmy Hayward

Cast: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Wes Bentley

Based on the DC Comics series and directed by Jimmy Hayward, Jonah Hex was one of this year’s highly anticipated big screen adaptations but failed pull in audiences following its troubled production.

The movie stars Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex and its story takes place during the American Civil War where he fought on the side of the Confederacy. Jonah’s commanding officer, Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), orders him to burn down a hospital, instead of carrying out the order Jonah shoots Turnbull’s son, Jeb. This leads to Turnbull and his men hunting him down and making him watch as they burn his house down with his wife and child inside. Before leaving, they brand the right side of his with the initials “QT” and leave him for dead.

A group of Native Americans find him and bring him back, but after being so close to death, Jonah now has the ability to converse with the dead. Armed with his new powers he begins working as a bounty hunter but it’s not long before he ends up going after Turnbull who is now building a weapon of mass destruction he plans to use on the 4th of July.

Although Jonah more or less resembles his comic book counterpart, the screenwriters (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor) did take some liberties with his origins. In Jonah’s first full-story appearance in 1972 it was the Native Americans who branded him after he was sold into slavery by his father. Later on it was a Union soldier who kills Jeb, but Turnbull would blame Jonah, vowing vengeance on him.

Neveldine and Taylor were originally intended to direct the film, but due to creative differences with Warner Brothers decided to step down and the job went to Jimmy Hayward. Although only 81 minutes, including credits, Jonah Hex is not the complete disaster I was expecting. Instead I found it to be an average quality film which uses all of the western clichés together with a few supernatural elements.

Jonah Hex - Michael Fassbender as Burke and John Malkovich as Turnbull

In terms of casting, Malkovich is campy as the villainous Turnbull, Fox doesn’t come across as interesting or alluring as they might have intended, but Brolin does a fine job as Hex although I think Thomas Jane would have fit the bill much better. Fassbender as the tattooed bowler hat-wearing Irishman Burke makes a far better villain than Turnbull and looks as if he’s thoroughly having fun with the part.

The most disjointed aspect of Jonah Hex has to be the heavy metal soundtrack provided by a band called Mastodon. It gives the film a rather amateur feel and separates it from its western setting. I would have like to have heard something more carefully crafted by Marco Beltrami.


  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Inside Story of Jonah Hex featurette
  • Maximum Movie mode – The Weird Western Tales of Jonah Hex

Despite its poor takings at the box office, the home release might fare much better. The Blu-ray includes deleted scenes and a featurette on the Inside Story of Jonah Hex. This has interviews with the director, cast and the people who worked on the original comics and gives some wonderful insight into how the film might have looked if it were left in better hands.

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