By Adam Ray Palmer
Today’s review is a film that was on The Black List in 2011 where great scripts for films are yet to be picked up by a production company.
Luckily, Relativity Media and Co. picked up the movie and decided to give it the green light a couple of years ago.
After a few hiccups and tribulations, The Weinstein Company distributed Jane Got A Gun earlier this month with a fresh new cast and team…
Jane Got a Gun centres on Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman), who has built a new life with her husband Bill "Ham" Hammond (Noah Emmerich) after being tormented by the ultra-violent Bishop Boys outlaw gang. She finds herself in the gang's cross-hairs once again when Ham stumbles home riddled with bullets after duelling with the Boys and their relentless mastermind Colin (Ewan McGregor). With the vengeful crew hot on Ham's trail, Jane has nowhere to turn but to her former fiancé Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for help in defending her family against certain destruction. Haunted by old memories, Jane's past meets the present in a heart-stopping battle for survival.
As you read the narrative above, you’re getting the idea that this is a slick, Tarantino-esque western, especially with the fact that the film is helmed by a heroine character in Natalie Portman. But, in essence, we get a meek tribute to what could have been a hit.
The film has four impressively talented actors at its core yet something just doesn’t seem to gel, and this time I think it’s the crew. The film is quite directionless and it quickly loses momentum when it should be building the intensity. The film is disjointed and it affects the whole movie. I lost interest in parts and I never really connected with the characters.
To be fair, Gavin O’Connor (the director) cannot take all the flack as he shouldn’t have even been on the project. He was left to pick up the pieces when original director Lynne Ramsey walked off the production just 24 hours before shooting commenced due to a fall out with producers. While this issue was being addressed, the former cast of Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper and Jude Law also departed the film.
There was only Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton left from the originals. This meant Joel got promoted from villain to ex-lover of Jane’s, plus he earned himself a writing credit after revising the script. So, to be fair, Jane Got A Gun has had its difficulties to overcome but for me; it never fully recovered judging by the final piece.
Don’t get me wrong, it certainly isn’t a bad film, but with what was projected and the talent on board – this film should have boomed. Instead, what we end up with is sadly less effective.
The post-Civil War western wastes no time getting to its premise with the first 15 minutes summing up what is to come over the next 90 minutes. However, as the narrative unravels, so does the interest. There are constant flashbacks throughout the film which stops the movie from flowing. They hinder the action and there are way too many of them. We don’t need to see how in love Jane and Dan were every 20 minutes; especially the hot air balloon scene – what a waste of time.
The film spends too much time changing perspectives and time frames that in the end, you just will the film to get to the inevitable showdown with the Bishop Boys. The plot is quite straightforward and the experienced cast should help the film flow but in the end, the story is drawn out across a fractured narrative structure.
It just makes me wonder how the former cast and crew could have worked the script. It also crossed my mind that Tarantino would have made this film a classic. But, in the end, you have to work with what cards you are dealt with and O’Connor certainly struggles with keeping this western-thriller on track.
Cineroom’s Rating: 2 Stars
Jane Got A Gun is currently showing worldwide in selected cinemas – certificate 15.