It’s likely that either 1. You missed this in the cinema 2. You purposely avoided it or 3. You had no idea it even existed, so here’s something to help you decide whether you did in fact miss anything, or made the right decision not to see it. Jane (Natalie Portman) seeks the help of her ex-lover (Joel Edgerton) to help save her outlaw husband (Noah Emmerich) from a gang that is determined to see him dead, lead by John Bishop (Ewan McGregor).
Natalie Portman has proved on multiple occasions throughout her career from a child actor in Léon to V for Vendetta to Black Swan, and earning herself an Oscar for the last one, that she’s a good actress and we can see that here but it’s a poor use of talent. The same goes for Edgerton, although in the case of McGregor he does tend to fairly frequently appear in projects of a relatively low quality. The intended chemistry between Portman and Edgerton is fairly tenuous at best, this could be due to the writing or a genuine lack of spark between the two actors but what should be a longing is more of a light fancying. This should also have been a strong female lead for Portman, a character of strength and courage in a time where women were hugely undervalued but there’s none of that, her only highlight of performance is the moments of emotion but they’re executed badly by the director, making them a fairly minimal highlight.
There are a lot of issues with this film, but cutting them down to the most prominent are firstly that the story is a relative mess, for a western it’s lacking the grit it would really benefit from, it feels much too soft. The second is that the story is all too easily resolved with fairly little else going on, and what there is, is pushed so far into the background that they’re easy to ignore or see their significance to the story. The fact that it took 3 people to write one script with such simple and short dialogue, in a story with no depth is extremely disappointing but going back to the lack of chemistry between the characters as well as a generally weak attempt at gaining audience sympathy, has a lot to do with the backstory being glossed over, there’s limited attempt to create any investment in these characters, very much a quick throw in leading to an event and that’s that. The slight efforts to take the film into deeper and more emotional territory are completely undermined by the fact that the rest of the film is so lightweight.
The verdict then is that if you missed this one, you didn’t miss much. The use of a lead female character and passing over the opportunity to turn her into a heroine is highly disappointing, Jane may have got a gun but she went and got her ex-boyfriend to shoot it for her and that sends a rather terrible message. The real sad part is that the film is not terrible, it is watchable but it is made so poorly that it is really only the kind of film that’s a throw away watch when nothing better is on. Also no-one can ignore that the title of Jane Got a Gun is terrible, full stop.