Jane Got a Gun, 2016.
Directed by Gavin O’Connor.
Starring Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Rodrigo Santoro, Boyd Holbrook, and Ewan McGregor.
A woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him.
Poor Natalie Portman. What looked on paper like a somewhat straight forward passion project ended up turning into a full blown nightmare with Jane Got a Gun, which is finally seeing the light of day at a cinema near you. It’s taken over three years for the film to reach this point after some horrendous production problems, from casting, directors falling out and everything in between. A slam dunk turkey then? Well not quite.
The film suffers from its notorious problems there’s no doubt about that, but this is not the total trainwreck many were fearing. A story that star and producer Portman has been trying to make for a while, she stars as the titular Jane, a woman who suffers heartbreak when her former war hero partner Dan Frost (Edgerton) is reportedly lost in battle. Pregnant and with nowhere to turn, she falls foul of local gang leader John Bishop (McGregor) and his gang who force her into prostitution and by extension her daughter, who gets dragged in despite her young age. But she finds solace in local man Bill Hammond (Emmerich) who vows to protect them.
A lot has been said about the impact of directorial and actor changes in it’s the film pre-production, but ultimately with its meandering and dull that is the biggest issue. It’s finale is a fiery affair as Jane fights for her life as Bishop and his posse close in, but everything up to that point leaves a lot to be desired. Told through a mixed of overly saccharine love story and a seemingly endless line of flashbacks that jar and disjoint the narrative that you ultimately never truly care whether Jane and her husband live or die rather than the opposite.
Director O’Connor, who made the brilliant Warrior with Edgerton, tries hard to breathe some life into proceedings with some loving slow camera pans of his surroundings, but it never feels as energetic or as dangerous as it should be, except when the final dramatic act comes along and things finally ignite somewhat. But even his tidy hand can’t hide he films obvious flaws of which sadly there are a few.
Despite that, Portman the actress gives a good account of herself here with an excellent lead performance that deserves better. Grief-stricken but resilient and strong, Jane is by turns gutsy and heroic. Edgerton too continues his excellent form here despite his limited arc, while McGregor turns up the ‘tashe twirling villainy up to 11 with his twisted Bishop a suitable mix of sinister and pantomime.
It’s hard to discount all the issues the film had on the final product, but despite some excellent turns Jane Got a Gun fails because it’s fundamentals, namely it’s limp script, just aren’t up to scratch. Still, there’s some decent stuff here and could make curious viewing for some.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Scott J. Davis is Senior Writer and Reporter at Flickering Myth. Follow him on Twitter.
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