Review: Jane Got A Gun
I was going to review The Finest Hours this weekend. My theater is playing it in IMAX 3D and I figured I’d jump in and start reviewing a more mainstream film to catch some followers. Then I saw that my theater was playing Jane Got a Gun, which I’ve been excited to see. So what was I to review? a film I was worried about anyway because despite having Chris Pine in an interesting role, it still looks like just another inspiring rescue movie? Or a movie that came in under most people’s radar, with major stars playing in a WESTERN, with a STRONG FEMALE LEAD!? The last film I watched which I thought was a western with a strong female lead, had the lead hang herself because no one would marry her towards the end… so yeah, I went with Jane Got a Gun.
However, rejoice! I always put the other films I watched during the week at the bottom of my reviews. (If you didn’t spot it last time, I mini-reviewed 13 Hours last week in my Ip Man 3 review.) So if you’re still aching to know how Finest Hours is, it might be at the bottom of my next review.
As always, SPOILERS will be in bold red letters, so look out for them if you’re planning on watching the movie soon.
And if this is your first time reading my blog, don’t forget to take a look at My Rating System, because in my ratings, there’s no horrible movies unless you get a 2 or 3.
So without further to do, let’s review!
Jane Got A Gun starts off with Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich) running across a field all shot up. He finally makes it home to Jane Hammond (Played by Portman). When she treats him to his wounds, knowing he needs a few days of rest, her husband warns her that John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) and his gang are after him, and the rest of them are coming. Jane needs to protect her home, and so she finds her ex-fiance, Dan Frost (Edgerton) and tries to convince him to help her. Finally, as the title of the film implies, Jane gets a gun. And then it goes down!
What Should Attract:
While it’s safe to say Jane Got a Gun is an independent film, it is rocking a hell of a cast. Natalie Portman is the main character, Joel Edgerton is the ex-boyfriend, Ewan McGregor is the outlaw, and Noah Emmerich the husband. They all look good in their parts. Natalie Portman looks like a bad-ass lady and she’s firing on all cylinders. Also did I mention that it’s pretty damn hard to find a bad-ass female lead in a western? how much more do you need? This film was supposed to be made years ago, but production problems and changes led to a lot of delays. With the role of the bad guy being changed (Michael Fassbender was set to play the villain, then Bradley Cooper, and finally they settled on McGregor.) And the director being changed (Lynn Ramsay, the director of We Need to Talk about Kevin was set to helm the film, but then she suddenly backed out). It’s been a crazy ride, but we finally get to watch it!
The film has some nice shots and very intense action action, but overall it feels short. It clocks in at just one hour and a half and I feel as though the film could’ve easily been at least twenty minutes longer with some scenes being rightfully extended. I felt as though I wanted a little more background information on the characters, as they never go too far into their background, along with the children. The editing also makes the film a bit uneasy to watch, because the pacing is not set very well. It feels too fast at times when you want it to be slow, and vice versa (such as in the end). The pacing of the film is also interrupted by flashbacks at weird times, which throws the viewer off. It’s not so much when the flashbacks happen, but how fast they come and leave. It calls attention to the editing rather then doing the opposite.
There’s a scene where Portman is trading in a shop, when suddenly right after saying a line, we’re thrown 7 years early for a scene that shows us a bit about the character. However important it is, it only last about two minutes and then we’re thrown back into the present, where Portman is still standing in the same spot. I get that you’re trying to show the character have a thought through a flashback, but when it happens and how fast it happens is unnecessarily abrupt.
This might just be a personal preference, but it seems even though the film takes place in beautiful. open, vast places (as westerns often do) the camera seems to have a lot of close-ups as the story focuses more on the characters. The film could have definitely used some vast landscape shots as at times it feels very claustrophobic with small breaks in between. Maybe, however, this is just a “I’m a John Ford fan and I just watched Hateful Eight a couple of weeks ago, and I want more!” thing I’m going through.
Finally, although the film feels like the type that gives a message or leads up to it, it doesn’t end up giving you one, other then the simple “Protect your family at all costs” thing. However you can get that out of any other entertaining film. The dialogue is too simple at times as are the images being shown due to the directing. However, this works well for the film at times.
First of all, this film is all about the 4 characters of Jane, Bill, Dan, and Collin. Despite the editing and how short it is, it shows it is well written. The film is great at not revealing too much from the beginning. You’re told someone’s name, then how they come into the story, and then how they play into the conflict of the film, but these three things are strategically placed throughout the film for you to able to keep up, but still want to know more. Jane is awesome, and she kicks ass, which is what I wanted out of the character. I love a specific scene which is seemingly going in a cliche western female portrayal, and then breaks itself away from it one way or another.
In the scene, she’s being taught how to shoot her handgun, and she sucks. It makes one feel as though a scene is coming where the lead male character teaches her how to shoot like a man! but then, while annoyed, Jane picks up the rifle and shoots it on target. She looks at her fellow actor and says “I’m better with a rifle, B*tch.” well, she doesn’t exactly say that, but that’s how it feels.
Another actor who steals some scenes is definitely Ewan McGregor, who widens his range as an actor by playing a great A-hole. The production is also good for making him look like an A-hole. He’s barely recognizable at the beginning. His gang of followers is also made up of some good actors that are good at making you not like them. Joel Edgerton also plays very well off of Natalie Portman, and his interactions with other characters make for some good scenes.
The sound in the film, and at times the lack of it is used very effectively. Sometimes there’s a conversation going on and then a moment of silence before the shooting starts. These moments, however small, build up a nice tension between each shot. Also, the randomness of some of the shooting, in the middle of conversations or someone saying something, make for some nice, realistic feelings in certain scenes. Look out for those, but you still won’t see them coming.
McGregor… is that you? you look like an A-hole!
The Hard Verdict:
– Although the way the film was cut is weird, it definitely builds up well.
-The editing, however, does make the ending (among other scenes) feel like it came and went way too fast, and it leaves the viewer wanting more. That, along with how short the film is as a whole, makes the film not leave as big an impression as one wants from it.
-You also can’t help but think how much stronger and meaningful the film would’ve been if directed by a strong female director, which I can’t help but feel the film was supposed to be.
-Despite all these flaws, the intriguing characters, story and the acting (from the entire cast) of the film definitely make this worth a watch. I would recommend it to those that want some intense scenes, and fast paced western action. However, if you were hoping for something as good as the westerns that came out recently, you may find yourself a bit disappointed.
Thanks for reading!
If you watched Jane Got a Gun and liked it, I recommend these films:
Other Movies I watched this week: Dirty Grandpa
“While very funny and fun, I only recommend it to fans of Raunchy comedy. People that enjoyed 40 Year Old Virgin, or Zack and Miri can enjoy, if not too sensitive to the content. Robert De Niro is great at being insensitive and vulgar. It ultimately follows the regular romance comedy cliches, so expect nothing special when it comes to plot, and a little of the unexpected in the comedy.”