Director: Gavin O’Connor (Pride & Glory, Miracle)
Screenplay: Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis, Joel Edgerton
Producers: Zack Schiller, Scott Steindorff, Terry Dougas, Aleen Keshishian, Scott LaStaiti, Natalie Portman
Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich, Boyd Holbrook
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 98 min.
Jane Got a Gun is a film whose troubled production was so studiously documented in the press that its actual release at this point feels like nothing more than an afterthought. Between the firing of original director Lynne Ramsay after she failed to show up to the first day of shooting (promptly being replaced by Warrior director Gavin O’Connor), the rotating door of stars that saw Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper all sign on for roles and then drop out (not to mention Joel Edgerton switching from one role to another), and the bankruptcy of studio Relativity, it seemed like this little western that could was never going to see the light of day. Finally, it arrives in theaters in the doldrums of January, a clear sign that new studio The Weinstein Company didn’t really have much interest in giving it a proper push to the masses. Jane Got a Gun went from hot topic in Hollywood to a limp noodle, where its fifteen minutes of fame expired long before it was actually released a whopping three years after that notorious first day of filming. The irony behind all of this is that, were it not for the internet age allowing us such a detailed level of knowledge into the behind the scenes drama of every film, you would have had no idea that things weren’t business as usual in the making of the project, given the relatively ordinary result.
Usually when a film is plagued by as much production trouble as Jane Got a Gun, the result falls into one of two categories. On the one extreme, you get the kind of cinematic masterpiece that is Apocalypse Now, an indication that the madness behind the scenes was all part of the method to bring about something bold and original in a way we’ve never seen done before. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s something like last year’s attempted reboot Fantastic Four, where the trouble is pasted all over the final product, an inconsistent mess that puts a stain on the canon of everyone involved. Jane Got a Gun strangely doesn’t fall into either camp, instead existing more as the kind of mid-level genre picture that you’ve seen plenty of times before. If it weren’t for all the talk about what went into the making of the movie, you’d likely forget about it not too long after you finished watching. Which isn’t to say that it’s a bad film, because it’s far from that, just that it’s not a particularly noteworthy one, in either a positive or negative way. Gavin O’Connor came on board in the eleventh hour and brought his workmanlike grit and professionalism to help save this film from falling off the rails, putting together a perfectly acceptable picture that won’t be a blemish on anyone’s record, but won’t stand out either.
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