February 5, 2016

Movie Review: Jane Got a Gun

Jane Got a Gun has finally arrived in theaters, some three years after it was shot. The movie has a production history that is the thing of legends. Unfortunately, the product that ends up on the screen is less than legendary. In fact, the movie is downright forgettable. It is a shame, too, as the cast is actually a good one, and a lot of the shots look fantastic. It really had all the parts needed to make a good movie, everything just conspired to ensure that this movie ended up not being good. Beyond that, the studio just snuck it into theaters, even upping the theater count from 400 to over 1200, but with no ad campaign, it was almost assured to fail.

The movie was directed by Gavin O’Conner, who previously directed Pride and Glory and Warrior. He was the replacement director who was brought in a day after original director Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) failed to show up for the first day of shooting. Her quitting resulted in a nasty breach of contract lawsuit, as well as the original director of photography, Darius Khodji, quitting in solidarity with Ramsay. Knowing this, it is kind of hard to blame O’Conner for the movie’s issues. At the same time, this was hardly the only issue the movie had. There was a revolving cast that looked at/cast any number of actors, including the likes of Jude Law, Michael Fassbender, Bradley Cooper, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hiddleston, Jeff Bridges, and Karen Gillan. Yes, troubled production to say the least.

The story tells of a woman named Jane (Portman) who is married to an outlaw (Noah Emmerich), who has gotten himself shot up by some nasty folks. You would think they were after him, considering his status as an outlaw, but no, they are actually looking for her. She has had some dealings with these other men that did not end so well. So, looking for anyone that can help her, she seeks aid from her former fiancee (Joel Edgerton, who also co-wrote the screenplay). Obviously, he is not too keen on providing assistance, but does. What follows is a showdown between the ex-couple and a gang led by a nasty fellow named Colin McCann (Ewan McGregor).

The movie sounds simple enough that you could have an exciting story built on it, but it never really gets going. It is hard to describe just what is wrong with the movie outside of saying it is not good. The acting is decent, the movie looks good, and it just feels like it should be good. It just never clicks. It feels as if it is always searching to give more exposition, to explain why things are the way they are, how the characters got to be where they are before the story actually started for us. This hunt for exposition keeps the movie from gaining any manner of momentum and, surprisingly, never allows for a good feel for the characters.

Jane Got a Gun should have been a fun western with interesting characters and moralities. Instead, what we got was a movie in search of a story, a purpose, any reason to exist. Funny thing is that I do not hate it. The solid acting (despite not having a story to tell) and the good look of the film kept me somewhat interested until it was over. With that said, I have no intentions of ever revisiting it.

Not Recommended.

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