In 1972, Jonah first appeared in DC Comics' "Weird Western Tales." The characters were created by John Albano and Tony Dezuniga. And it's taken this long for the vengeful, bounty huntin', ex-Confederate soldier to show up on the big screen with his disfigured face to kick himself some more ass.
John Malkovich ("Burn After Reading" and "The Dancer Upstairs") as Quentin Turnbull, does a good amount of ass-kicking, himself. Quentin would be Jonah's nemesis and proves to be a tick or two meaner than any junkyard dog.
Then, there's the little lady... or maybe I should say the little Lady of the Evening. Her name is Lilah, and she's played by Megan Fox, who I notice, very much, still has, "Jennifer's Body."
All three actors are awfully well-cast folks to be up front in a marvelously exaggerated, violence-packed 80-minute romp (directed by Jimmy Hayward) that interestingly touches on many things modern that run an arc the likes of a 007 caper: but all taking place in 19th century America following what some have called the not-so-Civil "freaking" War.
Even Ulysses S. Grant, as the victorious Yankee president (played by Aiden Quinn), shows up for "Hex." The prez gets wind of the talents Jonah possesses for always gettin' his man. And since Grant knows Turnbull didn't really die in a hotel fire (like Jonah believes he did) the president doesn't need to work too hard trying to persuade Mr. Hex to come on aboard to perform a mission for the Yankees (no baseball here) that would take-out old Turnbull, even IF Jonah fought for the South.
It was Turnbull who put the white hot branding iron to Jonah's right cheek to even the score for something burning in Quentin's brain and if he had one: his heart.
But since this is a comic book story, Jonah has talents beyond other Western heroes like John Wayne and Charlton Heston. Our tormented bounty hunter can communicate with the dead, and gets very effective intelligence out of them before they go back to being dead. This element puts "Jonah Hex" in the genre of a Western that's also a supernatural horror flick with not so much blood, but generous servings of violence, hatred and really weird physical abnormalities---Jonah's scar not the only one. It's rated PG-13, but I'd give it an R for the almost nonstop violence. (But however you might feel about its rating, almost everyone has got to go see a flaky horse opera partially filmed in Bayou Gauche, Louisiana.)
Screenwriters Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor lay-in interesting parallels between the irrationality of developing more deadly weapons following the Civil War and what's going on these days in the weapons and war department of our world.
Moreover, "Hex" has another subtext of politics to it. Jonah is an ex Reb who's lost his family, but his wife is shown to be a Native American and Jonah has a former real buddy who looks a bit like Barack Obama. Nope, the Hex Man isn't a racist, and that's part of the rub between him and his "old buddy," Quentin Turnbull.
The script digs even more deeply by showing the USA as being threatened by rogue Confederates who call themselves terrorists, while we watch, in the big finale, how, on the 4th of July these bozos lob cannon balls on Washington DC with their new-fangled artillery. It's suspenseful much in the way Ian Fleming might've written a Western, minus music by John Barry.
Toward the end of the film, Jonah Hex tells us in voice-over something to this effect, "A vengeful man has to dig two graves: one for the man he must kill in his righteous indignation, and the other for himself."
"Jonas Hex" is just creepy and spooky enough to be an appropriate rerun every October 31st, or so.
Brace Beemer never had it so good.
Opens wide Friday, 6/18.
Check Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.