Poor Josh Brolin. In Jonah Hex, the handsome actor steps into his first action role, and all he gets is one long slog of a movie disaster.
More importantly: poor movie-goer who sits through this misguided horse opera. Based on DC’s Civil War-era comic about a scarred bounty hunter-cowboy, the film races this way and that, opening with animation and launching into shoot-em-up turf. There’s blood, there’s bodies and deadliest of all, there’s an evil nemesis named Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), who wants to destroy the world.
Jonah’s life isn’t all bullets and baddies. There’s a resident hot girl, namely a tough-talking prostitute played by Megan Fox. Turnbull gets a sidekick, too: a man named Burke (Michael Fassbender) whose face tattoos suggest a kinship closer to Mike Tyson than his apparent Irish roots.
The movie’s funky mythology awkwardly mixes comic-book magic with Native American tradition. Jonah’s good with guns and trouble, but his true talent is chatting up the dead — which, while creepy, comes in handy on more than one occasion. The film’s other bit of mysticism is more earthy, when the power of a local tribe is revealed with drums, dreams, smoke and CGI.
For all its great leading men and sweeping rock ballads, Jonah Hex loses its way somewhere between gunfights and teepees. Apart from Brolin’s strong performance and a cool style, the movie’s real mystique is what went wrong behind the scenes.