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Characters unbelievable in ‘Jonah Hex’

By Staff | Jun 30, 2010

What do crows, hounds and dirt have in common? For the cursed back from the dead bounty hunter, Jonah Hex (Josh Brolin), they each represent a medicine man’s semi resurrection of his body.

Having nearly started his River Styx voyage accompanied by hounds of Hell, the Indian’s spirits pull him back into the land of the living. The death experience allows him to communicate with those crossed over, even raise their bodies for momentary inquisition.

Mixing touches of modern “nation killing” weaponry and unquenching vengeance, the man with a branded facial scar travels the plains dispensing instant badlands justice. His motivation? He’s cool with killing, just not collateral damage ordered by a superior officer.

Born as a D.C. graphic novel, “Hex” merely plants comic superhero fandom’s special powers plus revenge mantra into a post-Civil War time frame. Jimmy (“Horton Hears a Who”) Hayward directs his first live-action feature.

Hayward’s strong and intense visuals add a terrorist element to the villain’s arsenal of fear. That works, but his characters lack depth and motivation (beyond vengeance).

For instance, Hex patronizes a brothel where Lilah (Megan Fox) has more than ‘just another customer’ affection for the disfigured man. Left untold, why does the apparent airbrushed and perfectly made up working girl have the hots for a scissorhands scraped anti-hero/outlaw? Storytellers repeatedly augment the fiery death of Hex’s wife and son; they have no time for a morsel on the Fox connection. Did he walk into the house and pay for the prettiest after which she felt an emotional attachment?

Something tells me that either such moments were left on the cutting room floor or Hayward needs lessons to improve cardboard character depictions. Don’t put all the responsibility on the director, though.

Just reading the convoluted story, screenplay and characters credits, which answers most of the film’s shortcomings. You have to have an excellent story along with a popular concept or character. For “Hex,” two out of three ain’t too good.

Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com