Jane Got a Gun Review
Jane Got Shot
It’s understandably hard to extricate the notorious 4-year production history of the 2011 Blacklist hit Jane Got a Gun from the end result that we finally see on the screen now.Once set to be helmed by lauded and controversially outspoken British director Lynne “We Need to Talk About Kevin” Ramsey, Jane Got a Gun has had one of the most troubled production histories in a relatively mainstream movie of late, with almost all the other leads beyond the unchanging central star Natalie Portman leaving the project (including the likes of Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper and Jude Law) and many of the rest playing musical chairs with the remaining roles.Clearly privy to rampant reshoots (the original stills depict scenes which were never in the final cut), even beyond the reworking of the script done by the replacement director Gavin O’Connor and replacement co-star (originally set to be the villain) Joel Edgerton, who reunited after their stellar work on Warrior, the whole production has that what could have been feel to it, which overshadows the finished product. Which is a shame, because it’s actually a competent, solid Western.
With her once-outlaw husband bullet-riddled and out of action, and a vicious gang heading to their home to finish the job, determined wife and mother Jane elects to seek the help of an old flame who happens to bear more than a passing grudge towards her new husband. Holed up in their house together waiting for hell to come raining down on them, the three unlikely partners dredge the horrors of their past to find what brought them to this place.
Despite the frankly unnecessarily unkind reviews that have been shotgun blasted towards this troubled film, and beyond a couple of obvious missteps along the way (the score – particularly compared to what O’Connor did with, say, Warrior's score – is appallingly generic, and the tacked-on ending, almost certainly the result of reshoots, or at least last-minute changes, is disappointingly trite), it’s hard to know where all the venom has come from. It's understandable to wonder what Ramsey would have done with the same material – or at least what the original ending was – but O’Connor’s Jane is still a solid affair, privy to strong central performances from Portman and Edgerton, and decent support from Noah Emmerich as the husband.
It’s hard to see where all the hatred has come from. Jane got a gun, and despite what you may have heard, she knows how to use it.
The opening kid’s story sets a great tone, and the multiple flashbacks (beyond the fact that, irritatingly, they have to slap the viewer in the face with the date of when they are set, as if there was no other way of conveying the fact that it was the past) work well to maintain pace in the story where, beyond the climax, very little actually happens in the present.
Portman’s a worthy lead – at times great, making you wonder where she’s been for the last few years, although it feels sometimes like the plot reworkings have undermined what could have been a far more powerful character in favour of giving co-writer Edgerton’s character a little more limelight – and Edgerton works well opposite her, continuing a run of good roles which basically hasn’t stopped since even before his co-lead opposite Tom Hardy in Warrior. Sure, Ewan McGregor’s villain is a visually pantomime caricature, replete with twirling moustache, but – beyond a little lack of pervasive menace – he’s far from bad for the job, and the film works well to tell a remarkably low-key story through involving flashbacks and bursts of tension.
It’s really hard to see where all the hatred has come from and, to be honest, after everything that happened behind the scenes, we should be grateful Jane got shot in the first place.
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