Rachel Reviews JGAG

By January 29, 2016Opinions

I saw Jane Got a Gun this evening. Dazza told me to enjoy the film and asked me to write a review. I responded with “I’ll try,” and I did. I tried to care about the story. I tried to care about the characters. But I just couldn’t. I feel like the last couple of my reviews of Natalie’s films can be summed up as “Well, it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good, either,” and Jane Got a Gun is no exception.

Disclaimer: There aren’t any spoilers that you didn’t already see in the trailers. I am not Dazza or Andreas; writing is not my forte. You’ve been warned.

While it isn’t the disaster the nightmare production suggested, it is incredibly, frustratingly mediocre. I feel quite badly for the people responsible for picking up the pieces, because the entire time I kept asking myself, “Why was this movie made?” Why was so much effort put into bringing this story to life? It brings nothing new to a tired genre, and it doesn’t say anything. It certainly doesn’t feel like a passion project; the production feels void of any real passion.

I found this review difficult to write because I just didn’t care enough about this movie to really comment on it. Absolutely nothing stands out. The story is almost too simple. It’s told partially in flashbacks, and the transitions are jarring. We don’t really get to know any of the characters, and their motivations are either superficial or unclear. The villain John Bishop (Ewan McGregor) is a one-note caricature. I’m surprised he didn’t twirl his mustache. Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton), Jane Hammond’s marble-mouthed, curmudgeonly ex-fiancé, is the human embodiment of manpain. Her husband Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich) is a criminal gone straight, but we don’t get to know much else about him because he spends most of the movie laid up. Jane is just sort of there, rolling with the punches. The dialogue is rather poor at times and there’s very little of it that’s not exposition. There are a few moments, but ultimately the film doesn’t do a good job of building suspense. Even the action is a little boring. The score sounds like an afterthought and is all over the place thematically. The over-the-top happy ending is ridiculous.

The cinematography is nice. The direction is adequate. The cast is good. Natalie holds her own, but her performance isn’t terribly noteworthy. Jane isn’t terribly noteworthy. While it’s nice to see Natalie playing a woman (as opposed to the girls and ingénues that make up most of her resumé), her character is just as frustrating as the film itself.

Refinery29’s piece about the film being “unbelievably sexist” (since changed to “actually really sexist”) is not completely off the mark, though the writer misrepresents the relationship between Jane and her husband (I was afraid it was going to be the old “woman falls in love with her abuser” trope, and that’s really not the case). My biggest beef with the film is that this really doesn’t feel like Jane’s story. With the exception of the opening and closing of the film, we spend more time with Dan and know more about what’s going on in his head than Jane’s. And while she empowers herself and has some agency, there is an awful lot of male posturing and talk about who Jane belongs to. There was so much dialogue devoted to this that I thought (hoped) that it was going to be a theme the film was going to explore (à la Mad Max: Fury Road), but it never goes there. The film doesn’t really say anything.

Are there elements of sexism in the film? Yes. Is the film inherently sexist? No. I think expecting the character to be the wild west version of Furiosa is a bit silly. But there is a scene that is just as silly, and I rolled my eyes even when I saw it out of context of the film in the trailer. Jane’s a good shot with a rifle, but she’s worthless with a handgun. We’re to believe that Jane has had a pretty rough life on the lawless American frontier and has fled a violent gang that wants her husband dead and would do harm to her. She learned to hunt, but she never learned to shoot a pistol to protect herself? Then in another scene, she’s skilled enough to aim and accurately hit a character in his extremities in low light. Come on! I know it’s nitpicky, but it feels like it was just put in to be cute and it doesn’t work.

I can’t say I enjoyed Jane Got a Gun. It felt very much like a made for television movie. I can see a cleaned up version being at home on the Lifetime Movie Network. If I had caught this on television and Natalie wasn’t starring in it, it wouldn’t have been long before I changed the channel. Could Lynne Ramsay have taken the film in a different direction? Would the story have been more compelling if they had stuck to Brian Duffield’s original screenplay? Would Michael Fassbender have changed the dynamic of the cast (or would he have completely overshadowed Natalie)? Unfortunately, what was going on behind the scenes was way more interesting than what made it onscreen.


Author Rachel

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Join the discussion 16 Comments

  • hiRachel says:

    Hi Rachel, I just red the first § considering the fact that you tell yourself that we don’t need to read the rest. Things are going to change in the future, Natalie is going to choose better movies and to choose em for the story and what she really wants to express to the entire world (deep convictions, thoughts etc. (u know what I mean) + some useless super Heros ones cuz it rocks)
    Stay tuned trust me

  • Hmm. Well, to each his/her own. Personally, I really enjoyed it. I posted a lengthy review detailing why it was better than I expected. I really liked Natalie, of course; and Joel Edgerton’s performance was terrific. I’m not sure why every review I’ve read seems disappointed that it doesn’t completely reinvent the entire Western genre. That seems like an unreasonably high bar.

    • Rachel says:

      I don’t think people are asking for a reinvention of the wheel, but for a shot in the arm. The genre feels dead. Bring something new to the table.

      • I’m trying to come up with something that hasn’t already been done in a Western, and I’m failing. The novel element of this was supposed to be the female lead, and yes, even that has been done before. So, I guess that means the entire genre *is*, as you say, dead, and thus no more Westerns should ever be made.

        There are a lot of classic films that are really nothing more than pastiches of other works. My opinion is that a competently made film can be very good, even if it’s not terribly original. And I guess that’s the class of movie I’d put “Jane” in: not innovative, but solid and effective.

        • Elin says:

          @Berthold, I think that’s a bit too short sighted.
          It’s not about doing something that’s never been done before. It’s about finding a combination of things that feels fresh. Take The Revenant for example. At its core, it has a very simple revenge plot that could probably fit a Steven Seagal movie. But the execution made it worth watching. The cinematography was unlike anything I’ve seen before and they didn’t shy away from showing the more uncomfortable aspects of survival. The main character doesn’t speak for most of the movie (because he literally can’t) and yet I felt really invested in his story. I wanted him to survive and win. And that right there, that’s what makes the difference between a good movie and a mediocre one. If you can’t make us really care about the characters, if you can’t make us love them or hate them, you can’t make us care about what happens to them. And this seems to be the main problem in JGAG, based on the reviews I’ve read so far.

          • So… I didn’t care one bit about the character in “The Revenant”. And I cared a lot about the characters in “Jane Got a Gun”. I loved Jane and Dan and hated Bishop. So, the movie completely worked for me.

            I think the main “problem” with “Jane Got a Gun” is that it’s really a love triangle romantic drama movie set in the West, and for some reason the powers that be decided to market it as a female Clint Eastwood shoot-’em-up action movie. The point of the movie was the tension and the build-up, not the shootouts.

    • Gary Stowell - Pine Hill NJ says:

      The “Critics” are nuts. Natalie is a beautiful, dedicated young woman who lives her parts better than most actors / actresses do. Jane Got A Gun was a good movie. If you think the story was dull and meaningless, you obviously aren’t sympathetic to women and children who are sold into sexual slavery. That’s what the story was really about. Women are always abused by “scumbag” men who have no self control and don’t know how to treat a lady. They are human beings, not lumps of flesh to satisfy male urges.

      • Rachel says:

        “If you think the story was dull and meaningless, you obviously aren’t sympathetic to women and children who are sold into sexual slavery.”

      • Dazza says:

        Haha, a bit of an overreach perhaps. I’m sure there are some feminist themes percolating in there but people seem to be wishing it was more prevalent, especially in a year that had some really great (and exciting) films that tackled the theme head on.

  • For what it’s worth, I saw “Jane” again today, and still thought it worked brilliantly. I love the chemistry between her and Edgerton. I still say it’s a terrific movie. I wanted to applaud at the end.

  • achtung_natalie says:

    Cant say I’m surprised to be honest…….

  • NPYall says:

    The truth is Natalie was the producer on this film and as with any film shes tied to other then just hired as an actor she will do what ever it takes to get the film done. If she was hired just as an actor she would have dropped out as well. As we know shes been known to drop roles in the past. I haven’t seen it yet but I can watch just about any Natalie movie and have some sort of enjoyment but I’m sure it’s more of a TV film.

  • hiRachelAgain says:

    Hi Rachel Again !
    The genre feels not dead at all. u should try ‘Tru Grit’ or that Leo/Samuel/Tarantino to realize that it still has many years of bright future.
    I’m pretty proud that she gave it a try and btw tell me an actor of the scene who only do block busters

  • Apparently people aren’t allowed to have a negative opinion about a Natalie film lol. I haven’t seen it yet, but the trailer makes it seem like I won’t enjoy it. I’ll go in with an open mind, though!

    • NPYall says:

      No you cant have a negative opinion, if Natalie is in the film then it’s already at least decent.

  • Steve says:

    Thanks Rachel for the review!