Thursday, 15 December 2016

Jonah Hex (2010)

This is one of those movies where everybody mumbles and then the action scenes are REALLY LOUD, which makes it hard to find a volume level that works.  And it's not like the effort is really worth it, frankly,

Jonah Hex was a Confederate soldier until his commanding officer, General Turnbull, started committing atrocities against civilians.  Hex turned against Turnbull, but came out on the losing end: his wife and child were murdered, and he was disfigured and left for dead.  Thanks to the intercession of Native American medicine men, Hex survived, but any thoughts of revenge were stymied by Turnbull's death in a hotel fire.

Of course, this is a movie, so Turnbull's not dead.  He's just in hiding, and planning to put together a steampunk superweapon that can destroy entire cities.  US President Grant tells his agents to get Hex on the case.

And that's more or less the entire plot of the film.  I mean sure there are a bunch more details - Hex's close brush with death has left him able to speak with corpses, for instance, which he uses to good effect in tracking Turnbull down, and there's a romantic subplot - but it all pretty much just exists to justify the next action sequence, in a rather pro-forma and perfunctory way.

Being pro-forma and perfunctory is the film's big problem, really.  As a case in point, consider the romantic subplot.  Hex visits prostitute Lilah relatively early in the film.  She tries to persuade him that they should be a full time couple, but he demurs on the basis that people who get close to him tend to end up dead.  This is the only time they'll be on screen together until the inevitable "Turnbull threatens to kill her to make Hex surrender" scene in the final act.  You need to work a little harder to make stuff like that work, guys.

Even at a mere 80 minutes in run time, Jonah Hex feels stretched thin.  Lazy writing will do that.

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