DESPITE EVERY BIT of advance word that hinted otherwise, I steadfastly, stupidly held out high hopes for Jonah Hex. On paper, it still seems like it should work: a big-summer-movie adaptation of a comic-book western, starring Josh Brolin as the vengeance-set bounty hunter who's somewhere in between man and demon. A grizzled villain (John Malkovich) hellbent on blowing up Washington, DC, on the country's centennial celebration. Plenty of big guns, bigger explosions, and a very loose interpretation of American history. A scrappy, loveable mongrel dog sidekick who's both adorable and gross at the same time. Supporting roles by Lieutenant Daniels from The Wire (Lance Reddick) and Lieutenant Archie Hicox from Inglourious Basterds (Michael Fassbender). A soundtrack by Mastodon. Megan Fox in a corset.
But somewhere along the way, things went horribly, horribly wrong. Instead of the riotous fanboy nerdgasm it rightly should've been, Jonah Hex is completely neutered: It glazes over almost all of the violence and downplays the creepy supernatural elements of Hex's character. The plot is reduced to virtually nothing, and the whole lamebrained thing is over in 80 mercifully brief minutes. It's as if Warner Brothers and DC Comics took a look at this thing, immediately recognized it as a steaming pile of steampunk barf, and chopped it down to make it as painless and unbarfy as they could.
None of this is Brolin's fault. He's as gruff, glowering, and badass as he was in No Country for Old Men. He even transcends the ridiculous isthmus of latex stretched over the side of his mouth (Hex has his face branded by Malkovich's character early in the film). There are a couple of cool scenes where Hex lays his hands on a corpse, bringing them back to life so he can interrogate them as they collapse to cinders under his touch. (That's one of the side effects of being brought back from the dead by Hex—your body ignites into flame.) Awesome, right? But that's about as good as Jonah Hex gets—even Megan Fox's handful of scenes barely register, and I mentioned she was wearing a fucking corset, didn't I?