Jane Got a Gun Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)

Love is one of the strongest forces in the world and one of the most misunderstood. It has the ability to make the person with the most common sense do things they would not normally do. It also has the power to inflict pain upon which there is no description. There are also different types of love. Love for a parent, love for a child, love for a significant other, among others. Love and what we do for that love is at the foundation of the latest film by Gavin O’Connor, Jane Got a Gun.

The time is the late 1800’s, when the land was still “wild” and filled with cowboys and outlaws. Jane (Natalie Portman) lives with her husband, Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich) and their daughter Kate (Mia Wagenam) on a plot of land away from everyone. Bill arrives home one day, shot multiple times by the Bishop Boys gang, a gang in which he used to belong. Bill took out a couple of their gang first, and now their gang’s leader, John Bishop (Ewan McGregor), is coming to finish off Bill and Jane as well. So Jane reluctantly enlists the help of a neighbor and former fiancée Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), a former military sniper, to battle the Bishop Boys and settle things once and for all.

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When most people hear that the film is a “Western,” they are immediately turned off. Pictures of vast expanses of dirt, horses, six-shooter pistols, and boots with spurs come to mind. And rightly so, as these were a part of this time period. But don’t let that turn you off. You’re here to see a story and the way Jane Got a Gun is told is worth the dust storms. O’Connor tells the story with a straight narrative, using flashback sequences to fill in the gaps to help get the audience caught up to what is currently going on. We are taken back to see how Jane became acquainted with the Bishop Boys, how she met Bill and fell in love, why there is tension between Jane and Dan, as well as a tragic past for Jane involving numerous people. O’Connor takes us into the life of what it meant to be Jane in all aspects of her being, and guides us on the journey of how Jane became the woman she is today.

While the film has its protagonist and antagonist characters, it is really about Jane and Dan. With that amount of burden, Portman and Edgerton had to bring their A-games to the roles, and their A-games are what they brought. Portman is wonderful as Jane, taking on the role of a woman who has been through so much in the rough setting and still finds the strength to keep moving forward. But through it all, we see her ups and downs; from her humble beginnings, to points of hopelessness and despair, to finding the inner strength to stand up for herself and not back down against greater odds. Edgerton, on the other hand, brings a deep character to the film, where we don’t quite understand his motives early on, but as more information is unfolded, so are the layers of his character, which builds to a surprising twist for the character leading him to a new viewpoint on his current situation. Ewan McGregor is more than serviceable as John Bishop, taking on a character that doesn’t necessarily test his thespian skills. Noah Emmerich has a much more diminished role compared to the other three, and there isn’t much to say about his performance.

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Jane Got a Gun doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the “Western” genre, but the story is still good and the performances from Portman and Edgerton are good enough to carry the film. It also comes off as a very plausible story, focusing more on the drama with less action sequences, sans the big finale. The lack of action may also turn some people off from the film because why else do people like western films? And aside from a few nitpicky elements, Jane Got a Gun is a quality film that won’t have you talking about it for days after viewing it but will leave you satisfied overall and possibly feeling like you need to take a shower to get all that dirt off.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


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