Jane Got a Gun

Directed By: Gavin O'Connor

Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Noah Emmerich, Rodrigo Santoro, Boyd Holbrook, and Ewan McGregor

Making a movie trailer has to be a challenging art.  The men and women that make these trailers have to make a film worth moviegoers' time and money with just a brief two-minute snippet of the movie at hand.  They must convey the essence of the film without revealing too many key plot details.  They must make a film seem terrific even when it isn't.  They must put butts in seats at the box office.  It's a real art, and it's really unfortunate when it's not delivered in just the right way.  In the case of the recent release Jane Got a Gun, the creative minds behind the trailer definitely made a misstep on advertising a product that just simply wasn't there.  I expected a western boasting a strong female lead, not a mellow romantic drama with a western as the backdrop.  Ultimately, the trailer for Jane Got a Gun is perhaps a bigger disappointment than the film itself.

Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) has built a life and family for herself with her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich).  It all falls to shambles one day when her husband runs into John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) and his Bishop Boys gang.  Arriving at their home critically injured, Bill warns Jane of the looming threat.  There's just one problem.  Jane refuses to leave her home unprotected and will not run.  Jane tends to her husband's wounds.  Leaving a gun in his hand, she takes their daughter to safety and seeks assistance to deal with the Bishop Boys.  As fate would have it, all roads for help lead to Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), a man with whom Jane has had previous romantic entanglements.  Given their history, Dan is pretty reluctant to help her but ultimately relents.

It's safe to assume that I consider Jane Got a Gun to be a case whereby reality diverges from the expectations set by the trailer.  Not the brutal, no holds barred western I expected, this period piece dabbles in romantic drama with a less than interesting take on the tale at hand.  There's no doubt that the film is sprinkled with dark, visceral action sequences.  However, director Gavin O'Connor chooses to put a schmaltzy love triangle at the front and center of the film.  Because his actors are oscillating between the more romantic elements and the more dangerous ones, they ultimately end up giving middling, brooding performances, which don't work on either end of the spectrum.  Simply put, O'Connor's romantic western Jane Got a Gun simply doesn't deliver the goods for either genre.

Gavin O'Connor totally underutilizes the outstanding cast he's assembled for this western.  First and foremost, his interpretation of Natalie Portman's Jane Hammond is too weak to make for a convincing and engrossing lead in the typically action-centric genre.  She's a hardened damsel in distress instead of a heroine taking command of the screen whenever she's on it.  For his part as our other main protagonist Dan Frost, Joel Edgerton comes across as a rather vanilla character.  Despite what could have been a relatively intriguing back story, Edgerton fails to bring this character to life in a compelling manner.  Most notably, however, Ewan McGregor doesn't get sufficient screen time as gang leader John Bishop.  He offers what could be a delightfully devilish villain in glimpses.  He just doesn't get enough time to turn him into the antagonist this film so desperately needs.

My last gripe with Jane Got a Gun is fairly straightforward.  Its runtime is too short for you to get more bang for your buck.  Clocking in at 90 minutes, the film is over before it ever really gets started.  Jane Got a Gun gets a 0.09% rating.  I'd skip this one.  Otherwise, I'd have an old fashioned in hand.