The new DC Comics movie "Jonah Hex" qualifies as a saddle-sore supernatural horse opera. Imagine the classic Clint Eastwood western "The Outlaw Josey Wales" combined with the abominable Will Smith epic "Wild Wild West" and you'll have a rough idea about what to expect from this outlandish, often incoherent, half-baked travesty. Despite its PG-13 rating, "Jonah Hex" boasts some rather brutal violence, but the consequences of the violence are rarely depicted. Josh Brolin toplines a capable cast as a cursed Confederate officer who has endured a near-death experience and possesses some bizarre powers. Ostensibly, this Warner Brothers' release brings into the limelight a little known DC Comics' character that appeared initially in the 1970s. Unfortunately, "Gamer" scenarists Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor have changed several significant events and characters. First, we learn little about our anti-hero's origins. Second, Neveldine and Taylor neglect to delineate Jonah Hex's obvious supernatural capability. Mind you, Jonah Hex isn't immortal, but he can lay hands on dead men and temporarily resurrect them to satisfy his curiosity. Third, whatever charisma Neveldine and Taylor had going for them in their "Gamer" as well as their "Crank" movies never reaches the screen in "Jonah Hex." Reportedly, Neveldine and Taylor were supposed to helm "Jonah Hex," but they left the film after creative differences with the studio.
An American Civil War prologue depicts Jonah Hex as a valiant Confederate officer leading raids against Union troops. During his voice over narration, Jonah announces that war and he were made for each other. Things drastically change later when Hex refuses to obey an order to burn a civilian hospital with the patients trapped inside. The action is relayed in expository dialogue between our hero and a dead man. When Hex refused to carry out the order, he shoots his best friend, Jeb Turnball (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of "Watchmen"), and Jeb's father, General Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich of "Shadow of a Vampire"), tracks Hex down after the war to exact vengeance. They tie Hex to an x-shaped cross and raze his house with his wife and young child trapped inside. Before Turnball leaves, the heartless villain wields smoldering branding iron with his initials and scorches the right side of Hex's face. Crow Indians find the tortured Hex later and perform various ritualistic ceremonies that endow our hero with supernatural powers. Hex appropriates a tomahawk, warms it until it glows, and burned off the initials. As a result, our vengeance-driven hero's face is twisted into a sneer on one side with a hole in his jaw near his teeth. Everybody that confronts Hex bothers him about what happened to his countenance. Usually, Hex kills them. Sadly, our protagonist learns to his chagrin that Turnball has died in a hotel fire. Anyhow, Hex turns to a life of bounty hunting after Turnball's demise. Hex establishes a relationship a frontier call girl, Lilah (Megan Fox of "Jennifer's Body"), who is crazy about him.
Hex gets into trouble when he arrives in a two-bit town to get his bounty money for killing four brothers. Initially, the lawmen are not prepared to pay him off. They see only three bodies. Hex has the three corpses tied behind his horse, and he has dragged them through the desert. He expects them to pay him the vast sum of $100 for the quartet. One of the lawmen observes that there was a fourth brother. Hex slings a bag with a head in it at the lawmen, and they decide not to honor their agreement with him. Instead, they aim to collect the $500 on Hex's head. A man with a rifle in the church bell tower blasts away at Hex, but he is a terrible marksman. The lawmen empty their holsters to fire, too. Unveiling two Gatling guns hanging on either side of his horse, Hex wipes out everybody. Never mind that no horse could tote around such heavy armament. Concessions have to be made in larger-than-life movies like "Jonah Hex," but Haywood doesn't make anything look cool. The Army arrives after as Hex is getting out of bed with Lilah. They conscript him into the military at gun point. They have news that Quentin Turnball is alive. President Grant (Aiden Quinn of "Practical Magic") thinks Hex is the ideal hombre to track down murderous Turnball.
Meantime, Turnball steals a massive, multi-barreled, revolving cannon devised by Eli Whitney, Sr., that will enable the user to flatten an entire town. The military has concealed the weapon. They feel that its power is too devastating. Predictably, Quentin Turnball thinks otherwise. He hijacks the train and uses dynamite to blow the Federal troops guarding the weapon sky high along with the civilian passengers. Women and children are among the soldiers. Hex exploits his power to make the dead loquacious and learns from Jeb that Quentin Turnbull is holed up at Fort Resurrection. At the fort, Hex boards the ironclad ship equipped with the weapon of vast destruction. Turnbull and his men are about to launch the ship when Hex shoots it out with the villains, but the wily villain escapes. Turnball plans to steam his warship within range of Washington, D.C., and then open fire on the centennial celebration.
Of course, Hex puts the hex on Turnbull. Basically, "Jonah Hex" suffers from an incoherent script. We are never told exactly why the villains must fire five cannonballs and then fire a gold cannon ball that detonates the other cannon balls. The best thing that "Horton Hears a Who!" director Jimmy Hayward does with this formulaic western is rein it in to a mere 80 minutes. Nothing about this oater is memorable. The dialogue is forgettable, and poor Josh Brolin looks like somebody glued a slice of pepperoni pizza to his face. Megan Fox is sexy, but she isn't around long enough to make much of an impression. A bearded, long-haired John Malkovich rounds out the cast as the homicidal terrorist.