Review: “Jane Got A Gun” Is A Ho-Hum Affair

 

 
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Direction
6.0


 
Acting
6.0


 
Plot
5.0


 
Execution
5.0


 
Total Score
5.5


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Posted March 21, 2016 by

 
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Jane Hammond (Portman) marries outlaw Bill “Ham” Hammond when she believes that her fiance Dan Frost (Edgerton) has died. The Gang that Bill is a part of, The Bishop Boys, and their leader Colin McCann (McGregor), don’t take too kindly to the two running off on their own and starting a new life. When Bill decides to take matters into his own hands, it turns the gang against him — and ultimately against Jane and her young daughter as well — and they leave Bill on his death bed causing Jane to turn to her ex-fiance Dan to come to their aid.

“Jane Got A Gun” is your typical western flick: a so-so premise with popular actors and the promise of a lot of action. Ten year ago, when westerns were mostly reserved for the “Made for television” role, this film would have stood out and possibly could have breathed new life into the genre; unfortunately with westerns like John Maclean’s “Slow West“, S. Craig Zahler’s “Bone Tomahawk“, and Daniel Barber’s “The Keeping Room” recently taking the genre to new and interesting places, “Jane Got A Gun” feels like a return to the old westerns that offered the bare minimum. More a victim of better western’s being offered up than anything else, “Jane Got A Gun” fails to excite, but it also doesn’t disappoint. It’s a perfect ‘middle of the road’ film that most will forget soon after watching.

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Director Gavin O’Connor tries to break up the slow pacing by giving us backstory through flashbacks, but by the time you realize what’s at the root of everyone’s motives, the film is coming to a slow crawl of a finish and offers up an ending that doesn’t do much emotionally to the viewer. Perhaps the script would have been better served by innovative filmmaking or a more stylized approach, but O’Connor plays it relatively safe and the lack of risk involved is the most noticeable thing. When you go to a movie, you don’t want it to play out like something you could have watched at home and unfortunately that’s how this movie made me feel.

What every great western needs is a villain that is truly hateable, downright evil, even terrifyingly diabolical. The casting of Ewan McGregor looked great on paper because he’s a well-known actor, but he was completely wrong for this role. It felt more like a special appearance in a television series than a starring role in a film. No matter what he does in this movie, I can’t get over the fact that Ewan is a likable guy and because they don’t make his character go all-out-evil I just couldn’t buy him as a villain that I really needed to root against. Even at the end of the film, I thought, “Can’t they all just get along and be friends?” I shouldn’t feel that way about the guy that’s causing the tension in the film.

The other casting question I had is why Noah Emmerich as Bill Hammond? He’s been around for a long time and is one of the best character actors yet all he does in this movie is lay in bed moaning and people have to check on him to make sure he’s not fully dead yet. They could have gotten anyone to play that part, but it felt like they just wanted another recognizable face. I would have loved if they told more of his story; showed how drastic of a change it was that he went from being a part of a ruthless gang to being a family man, but they seemed content just having him in a bed and Joel Edgerton’s character hating him. It’s a shame that this film has great actors and couldn’t figure out what to do with all of them.

If you want a great western, I’d recommend the three that I mentioned earlier. If you want something that won’t offend anyone and will, at the very least, entertain for a while, “Jane Got A Gun” is the movie for you.

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DavidRyanM

 


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