• Jane Got A Gun

    Released By: Anchor Bay
    Released On: April 26, 2016
    Director: Gavin O'Connor
    Cast: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Noah Emmerich, Rodrigo Santoro
    Year: 2016
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    The Movie:

    A Western, starring Natalie Portman? Don't sign me up, I said. Well, actually, I did say to sign me up (for the screener, anyhow), but I did not have high hopes for this one. The Western, while not my favourite of the genres, does hold a special, nostalgia-fueled place in my heart, and Natalie Portman holds a not-so-special, I don't like her very much in anything, place in my brain. But, occasionally duty calls and I find myself surprised by a film that I had very low expectations for.

    Jane Hammond (Portman) is your average frontier housewife down New Mexico way, cooking, cleaning, raising her daughter and doing other "womanly" chores while her husband Bill (Noah Emmerich) is off doing whatever it is he does. Whatever it is, it's probably not an honest line of work, being that Bill has returned from his latest venture with a number of bullets stuck in him. Giving ol' Bill a bottle of whiskey to numb the pain, Jane extracts all but one of the slugs, convinced that the worst is over. Not so, however, as Bill whispers to her that, "The Bishop Boys are comin'"...a savage band of merciless outlaws led by John Bishop (Ewan McGregor). Jane knows enough to be aware that her family is in danger, drops off her child with the neighbours, and saddles up to go find help.

    Help, in this case, comes in the form of Dan Frost, a grizzled gunslinger and Jane's former fiance. Not impressed that Jane up and left him for another man while he was off to war, Dan is reluctant to help her or her husband, and tells her as much. But luckily for Jane, it turns out that Dan still burns a bit of a candle for his old flame...and like a streak of light, he arrives just in time to put a bullet in the head of her would-be rapist, a nasty piece of work from Bishop's gang. Before his untimely death, the outlaw passes on some important information; that John Bishop has sent all of his men looking for Bill Hammond, on account of that "fur-tradin' sunovabitch" killed a few of his men. His threat is confirmed when Dan and Jane return to the Hammond homestead and are surprised by yet another ugly, well-armed outlaw. As they do what they can to prepare for the onslaught of Bishop's men, Dan and Jane find out more about each others pasts and what caused them to go their separate ways, which would work out really well were it not for Jane's new husband and father of her child resting nearby, or the certain death that approaches on the horizon.

    Jane Got A Gun, to reiterate my thoughts from the first paragraph, was not a film I was expecting to like...particularly for Portman's participation. Surprisingly, she melds perfectly well into the picture, making the guise of a frontier woman appear to be her everyday role. She delivers her lines like a pro and carries herself as a woman of her stature should, but maintaining the nuances that a woman of her stature should, if that woman had a dark past. Portman isn't the only one to step up to the plate here and knock it out of the park; Edgerton and Emmerich also pull off very convincing characters with ease, adding to the enjoyment of the somewhat simple story, with both helping to create very realistic relationships between themselves and the films heroine. But the real star here is Ewan McGregor, who, in his brief time onscreen, manages to defy all expectations and remain almost unrecognizable. All in all, the performances from lead roles right down to the bit parts are exceptional in this film, with not a bad apple in the bunch.

    Performances aside, the writers and Director Gavin O'Connor take full advantage of a basic story to flesh out what we see onscreen. The pacing is tight, details and shot composition are well-suited, and the decision to use brief, intermittent flashbacks to build the backstory of the characters is a good one. Despite the convenience of the ending and the lack of any real guesswork on where things are going to go, Jane Got A Gun occasionally pushes aside convention for some truly dark material and some solid violent sequences. Holding the whole thing together is the cinematography of Mandy Walker, which adds some western genre authenticity to the film, opting to stay away from a more modern aesthetic. While Jane Got A Gun isn't going to re-write the rules of the Western genre, the sum of the parts come together to create a truly enjoyable experience.


    Jane Got A Gun comes to Anchor Bay Blu-ray (and digital download) in an AVC-encoded 2.40:1 transfer that looks fantastic and suits the material. The dusty aesthetic is well-preserved with great detail and clarity, while the wider aspect ratio takes advantage of some beautiful landscape. Blacks are solid and what little colour is on display looks good, with no visual hinderances.

    The English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track matches the film well, with dialogue front and centre, and the minimalist score balanced well against the spoken word and other sound effects. Use of the surrounds is non-intrusive and seemingly non-existent for the most part, but they really come to life along with the LFE during the heavier action sequences. Dynamic range is good, and there are no hisses or pops to speak of.

    English SDH and Spanish Subs are provided.

    There are no extras on the disc.

    The Final Word:

    Portman, McGregor, and the rest of the cast deliver some great performances within the framework of a fine Western. Definitely a surprisingly decent flick.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      I was cautiously optimistic but now I'm excited to see this one. Thanks
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Hope you like it!