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You cannot really give Jane Got a Gun a fair review unless you talk about at least some of the numerous production problems. Right before Jane Got a Gun was supposed to begin principal photography, the original director Lynne Ramsay (We Need to Talk about Kevin) did not show up on set. The cast and crew were then informed that Ramsay left the project. Gavin O’Connor (Warrior) was immediately hired to take over, but soon after the male lead Jude Law, left the project citing that he only signed on specifically to work with Ramsay. Soon after that, Relativity, the production company paying to distribute the film went bankrupt. The film was supposed to be distributed on Sept. 4 for a possible Academy Award qualifying run, but the Weinstein Company acquired the film and scheduled it for a United States release in February. It would be great to say that despite all of its troubles that the film turned out to be outstanding, but unfortunately that is not the case.
Set in New Mexico territory in 1871, Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) sees her husband “Ham” Hammond arrives home and immediately fall off of his horse. Jane runs to his rescue to discover his body is riddled with bullets. While Jane is trying to remove his bullets, he mutters that the Bishop boys are coming. At this point we do not know who the Bishop boys are, it sends Jane into enough of a panic to run her daughter to the safety of a friend and seek more protection. This protection comes in the form of Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), her ex-fiancé whom she left for Ham. We soon learn the Bishop boys are a group of outlaws who are seeking to harm Jane’s home, and she and Dan alone must protect her farm and husband.
This film is ultimately about Dan and Jane’s former relationship, told throughout several scenes in flashback. The bottom line is, they were meant to be together but unfortunate circumstances happened to get in the way, so Jane moved on and Dan never got over it. For her husband being the main person sought out by a bunch of killer outlaws, we do not see much of him or know about the wrong that he did. We only see him and his courtship of Jane through flashbacks. Jane and Dan’s relationship is portrayed as star-crossed lovers who lost their way, but the memories of their former happiness go on way too long. The film’s structure contains a clean opening, filler, which ultimately leads to a weak ending.
Despite Jane and Dan’s past love being told throughout the film in great detail, you do not care at all about their relationship. Jane never rejects her love for her current husband, despite him being the reason she’s dodging bullets in her own home. The title of the movie is Jane Got a Gun, implying Jane is some kind of hero, but she doesn’t actually DO anything. Jane rides horses and she knows how to shoot a gun, but she is ultimately getting rescued by Dan. Joel Edgerton gives a great performance as Dan, but it seems out of place in this film. He is supposed to be a romantic lead, but there is no romance happening to him and Jane. He just seems pissed off at her the whole time and he’s just there to complete a job and go home.
Gavin O’Connor had his work cut out for him, and it shows. All the scenes in the film lack any depth, tension, and suspense. It just seems as if O’Connor was around to get a job done as quickly as possible, so the film can make a deadline.
Ultimately Jane Got a Gun is boring. There is an event at the beginning and at the end, and it just wants to be over. Maybe if there was more time for filming and couple more rewrites, this film could have been somewhat effective, but right now it could be a straight to DVD release.