Aside from its patently awkward title, Gavin O’Connor’s “Jane Got a Gun” still had a draw, namely its two stars Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton and its tight-knit story in a Western setting. Unfortunately it became better known for the carousel of people joining and then leaving the film as well as the distribution turmoil. The Weinstein Company eventually dropped the film into the January wasteland of releases. Predictably it bombed.
It’s amazing that the film was ever completed. Michael Fassbender, Jude Law, and Bradley Cooper were all cast in important roles but left the project. Director Lynn Ramsay left and was replaced by O’Connor. Cinematographer Darius Khondji left and was replaced by Mandy Walker. Brian Duffield’s script received substantial rewrites by Joel Edgerton and Anthony Tambakis. That the film manages the cohesion it does is impressive.
But I think all of those production woes put up some insurmountable hurdles. While there is a simple but interesting premise, “Jane Got a Gun”struggles to sustain any level of energy. It putters along towards its obvious conclusion giving us a few good character moments but not enough to save the film from its mediocrity.
Portman plays Jane Hammond who has settled down on a patch of land with her daughter and husband Bill (Noah Emmerich). But Bill can’t shed his outlaw ways. After wrangling with a gang called the Bishop Boys and their leader John Bishop (Ewan McGregor), he returns home full of bullets and with the gang hot on his heels. What a great guy.
With Bill incapacitated Jane asks her ex-fiancé Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) to help her protect her husband and house. The two must navigate several emotional mine fields include their past relationship and Dan’s glaringly obvious (and reasonable) disdain for Bill. The movie plants itself here for a bit exploring the history of these two through a number of pointed conversations and flashbacks. It doesn’t add much to the film and only pushes back the inevitable conclusion.
I certainly can’t fault the performances although there are moments where Portman struggles mightily with her Old West accent. Edgerton is good even though his character isn’t nearly as layered as he could have been. Ewan McGregor is fun in a cheesy, evil, mustache-twirling way. The problem is I’m not convinced the movie is intentionally playing him that way.
In the end “Jane Got a Gun” is the definition of bland. Its faults aren’t egregious or due to creative incompetence. It simply lacks that pivotal spark in the relationships, in the dialogue, and even in the action. The frustration comes in knowing it isn’t a terrible film. It’s just a flavorless western that can’t seem to capitalize on its decent ideas.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS
Have not seen it but I like the Director, the castrain but mostly the poster.
It’s pretty rough. Well, better said, it’s very bland. Seems unsure of itself and doesn’t come all together.
This just looks so painfully mediocre. A shame it seems Edgerton has been in quite a lot of such movies lately
Yep. Edgerton really tries hard here. He just doesn’t have enough to work with.
Good review! I myself was not a big fan of the film. I found the characters to be flat, just like the visuals, whereby the film became quite boring, which was all quite disappointing, because I’m a fan of “Warrior”, also a film directed by Gavin O’Connor and last year’s “The Accountant” was pretty good too.
I really liked Warrior as well. It was chock full of life. This one was (as you said) flat. It’s really a shame.
I did think this was a bit of a mess… you can tell there had been rewrites and it never really seems to be going anywhere, which is a shame considering the talent involved (and the talent that left!). I enjoyed McGregor here, too – he’s the only person who seems to be having fun, though I’m not sure it’s the right movie for that!
No doubt the ‘production hell’ it went through played a part in this. You’re right – you can tell.
Just reading about the production history is eventful enough. Man that’s a lot of drama behind the scenes!
Wasn’t it?!?! Amazing that the thing ever saw the big screen.
Definitely some achievement that it came to screens at all.
The people who left the project made a wise decision because mediocre is a good word for the end result.
It really is a good word for it. Mediocre fits it in so many areas. That’s a shame.
I also wanted to tell you that my blog is five years old today and I wanted to thank everyone for being so good to me. https://vinnieh.wordpress.com/2017/04/20/5-year-blog-anniversary/
Five years old?!?! Awesome! Congrats! Thanks for continuing it through the years! Love reading from those of us who’ve been doing this a while!
Thanks Keith, you’ve been a great friend and blogger since the start. I wholeheartedly thank you for your honest and supportibe nature.
And here’s to five more years!
Thanks man, you’re a great friend. Just to tell you, I recently began a feature called what is your favourite performance by? It’s been really well received of late. Check it out.
Much obliged Keith.
Here’s the first one. https://vinnieh.wordpress.com/2017/04/15/what-is-your-favourite-meryl-streep-performance/
I meant supportive nature, was typing too fast in last comment.
Hey bro. Sorry for my tardy visits these days. Haven’t been doing the rounds like I used to.
I have always been drawn to this to see what the fuss is about. Such a shame that it was plagued with production issues. I’d loved have to have seen a Lynne Ramsey/Fassbender deal.
Oh no worries my friend. Trust me, I know how live tends to interfere with our movie watching and blog visiting. Great to hear from you though. Hope you’re getting to squeeze in a few good movies here in there.
Always watching something here or there, man. I should make more of an effort to pop by, though. You’re one of the few remaining bloggers that has lasted the pace from what I would call “my crowd”. So many have packed it in.
I’ve noticed the same thing. So many have called it quits. Hate it too. Really miss making those usual rounds.