WATCH THE TRAILER HERE
First, the Recap:
Life in the Old West has never been a picture of serenity, even with the spacious prairies or epic desert spans portrayed via so many tales spun about the heroes and villains the territories have produced. No, it seems overall that existence depended on either being good with a gun or otherwise keeping your head down and living as inconspicuously as was possible. For Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman), life in 1871 New Mexico is the latter, thanks more to a husband, Bill (Noah Emmerich) whose outlaw ways are trying to catch up with him. Raising their daughter as best she can, Jane soon finds circumstances even worse when Bill returns home from a trip in less than perfect condition.
Heeding a warning Bill gives her while he’s attempting to recuperate, Jane seeks out help from a neighbor, Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), with whom she has a history with as well. Reluctant to assist due to said past, Dan’s involvement becomes more than necessary when it is made extremely apparent Bill’s sins, in the form of the Bishop Boys’ gang lead by a ruthless Colin McCann (Ewan McGregor), is coming to even a score with Hammond and anyone tied to him. As the mounting anticipation of the gang’s arrival builds, Dan and Jane work together to fortify her home and prepare to make a stand, even as the buried memories of another lifetime haunt them both. But little do they realize that even more revelations are yet to be revealed.
Next, my Mind:
When it comes to Westerns, this reviewer has always appreciated the more epic style of efforts like “Tombstone”, “Open Range”, and “Unforgiven”. While director Gavin O’Connor’s smaller scale effort here isn’t making any allusions to achieving that standard, one might still expect a certain level of material to be presented. Unfortunately, this falls short, and the already much-delayed film fails to truly inspire with its story, characters, or at least some semblance of originality. While it does move along at a brisk pace, given a 97-minute runtime, what we watch transpire with Jane, Bill, Dan, and Colin simply doesn’t illicit being genuinely invested in them. Instead, we just know outcomes from previous stories of similar ilk.
Truth be told, the lack of real conviction in the narrative is then reflected on the actors playing the parts, and it feels like a completely wasted cast of very gifted performers. Portman’s Jane has moments where you might feel her character’s pain and longing for how things might have been and still could be, but there’s just nothing that surprises in how her tale unfolds. Likewise for both Edgerton as Dan, a former love of Jane’s looking to reconcile past mistakes in his own life and moreso with her, and McGregor as Colin, an ultimately cookie-cutter, prototypical nasty whose fate we might as well have broadcast on the Western Union telegraph, it’s “so what??” to these characters. Emmerich doesn’t get much to do either, thanks to Bill’s decrepit state of being, other than in flashbacks.
In total, “Jane Got A Gun”, while certainly not the worst Western to come out (“Bad Girls” anyone?), is sadly an effort that was not worth the wait for release, and might still showcase how Hollywood really is running low on quality material in genre after genre these days.
As always, this is all for your consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!