HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Jane Got a Gun
HTS Overall Score:70
Usually when a film gets delayed a good year and a half past its initial estimated release date there’s some nastiness going on behind the scenes. “Jane got a Gun” was originally supposed to be released in late 2014, but a merry go round of budget issues, cast issues, and editing issues made it seem like the film just wasn’t going to get released. Then, low and behold, 2016 allows us to FINALLY see the end product. So be assured that I was MORE than nervous on watching a film that the studios didn’t deem fit proper enough to be released a year and a half ago. The verdict. Not bad at all. “Jane Got a Gun” has it’s slow spots and certainly hales back to a more languid paced genre of western, but I was thoroughly entertained by a western that feels like it was created almost 40 years ago.
Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) and her husband Bill Hammond” seem to be your standard old west couple. Barely eeking out a living on the wild frontier, Jane is at home with her daughter, while Husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) is out on business. Returning home on his death bed, shot to blazes and back, Bill is able to convey the threat of the infamous Bishop Boys and their gang (whom Bill was a part of years ago). Bill was able to shoot 4 of them before escaping their clutches, but not before his own life was nearly ended. Realizing that the outlaws were coming this very direction, Jane refuses to let her man be captured and goes to ex-fiancé, Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) in hopes to acquire the war hero/gunslinger’s help in protecting the two of them. Initially refusing her request due to being the jilted lover, Dan begrudgingly goes against his better judgement and comes to help Jane make one last stand against the outlaws.
Like most slow paced western, it’s not as simple as all that. Protecting the woman who jilted him while he was fighting for the War Between the States is something that doesn’t sit well with Dan. Especially considering the fact that Bill Hammond is not only the man who stole his girl, but also an ex member of the Bishop boys himself and carries a goodly price on his head for deeds committed years ago. Layers upon layers have to be peeled back though, with the story of just how Jane became Jane Hammond, and just what happened to sharpen her into the woman she is today and what makes her stick by Bill Hammond to the bitter end. Even though her husband urges her to save herself as the sins of the past come back to haunt them.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69346[/img]“Jane Got a Gun” is very much a character driven western. The action is few and far between, and so is the high flying adventure. There AREA several scenes of violence that show the brutality of the wild west, but much of the time is spent delving into the three main characters (as well as John Bishop (Ewan McGregor), who plays a sort of “semi” main character). Dan’s anger at being left by Jane is certainly justified in his mind, but there are other factors at play that cloud his judgement as well as information that he’s not privy to. The same goes for Bill Hammond. The viewer is left wondering why Jane would stand by a man who rode with a gang of murders and thieves, especially a woman who has a strong moral code of conduct. That itself is also touched upon, and what changes Jane from the loving fiancée to the hardened frontier woman that we see before us now.
There’s some flaws in the storytelling, mainly due to the fact that the characters are interesting, but not THAT interesting if you know what I mean. We get to see their motivations and their desires, but much of the time it hovers just under the level of being truly emotional or wildly interesting. There’s a fantastic scene in a cathouse near the end of the movie that is gut wrenching and amazingly well executed, but that takes a while to get to and sometimes the viewer is ever so slightly bored. As much as he’s almost a secondary character in the movie, McGregor as Bishop himself completely steals the show with the charm and charisma that only Ewan McGregor can pull off. He’s slimy, creepy, and completely intoxicating to watch, even if it feels like he’s a bit underutilized during the 98 minute film.
Rated R for violence and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69354[/img]“Jane Got a Gun” is actually one of those films that is becoming rarer. Meaning that it was ACTUALLY shot on film stock vs. being a digital undertaking. The film sports a nice layer of grain that adds a gritty and sandy feeling to the picture, with a definite push toward browns and tans, allowing the film to really feel parched and dried up like the terrain around it. There’s a few mild colors coming there here or there, but being PG-13 we don’t even get to see a lot of red in the form of blood. Just the tans and brows of the dusty looking film. Black levels are solid, with nice delineation and some good shadow detail. I noticed some banding in the darker bits, which is a bit annoying, but the rest of the brightly lit imagery showcases some nice facial details as well as the more intimate detailing of old fashioned clothing and leather stitching on saddles.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=69362[/img]Besides the gunfight at the end of the film, as well as a few splashes of action here and there, the 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is a rather quiet and subdued experience with a naturally front heavy push. Dialog is strong and intelligible, but recorded a bit low at times compared to the rest of the track. Surrounds get some ambient nuances such as the sound of horse hooves clopping along the dusty roads and the rustle of bushes in the wind. However, when the gunfire starts up the bullets whizz from all directions with wood splintering under the impacts and the blinking of bullets off the surrounding cabin creating a nice 360 degree layer of immersion. It’s a simple track, and encoded well, it’s just that it really isn’t required to DO much besides assist with the dialog until the end of the movie.
“Jane Got a Gun” isn’t exactly the reincarnation of the days of the western greats, but it certainly is an engaging film that seems to be modeled after a style of storytelling that was more common in the 70s than something out of the early 2000 era. Acting and storytelling is solid enough and the merry go round of production troubles doesn’t seem to have affected the storytelling too much, despite a hiccup here and there. Audio and video are impressive, but sadly we don’t get to have any extras whatsoever (some behind the scenes extras dealing with the delays would have been really interesting to check out). Definitely worth a watch if you’re a fan of westerns.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor
Directed by: Gavin O'Connor
Written by: Brian Duffeild, Anthony Tambakis
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Runtime: 98 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: April 26th 2016
Buy Jane Got a Gun On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Worth a Watch
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