Sunday, April 24, 2016

On Blu-ray/DVD/VOD/Dig: Gavin O'Connor's (very) slow-burn western, JANE GOT A GUN

Better than you may have heard (only 40% positive from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes), but nothing to get excited about, either, the would-be-home-invasion-cum-revenge western, JANE GOT A GUN, proves pretty to look at (via the scenery and the faces of its stars Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton) as well as decently acted by its ensemble and adequately directed by Gavin O'Connor.

Mr. O'Connor, shown at right, came to the project very late, when the original director suddenly withdrew, and the screenplay he was saddled with (credited to Brian Duffield, Anthony Tambakis and Mr. Edgerton), while laconic enough to pass muster in the western genre, does contain a couple of roll-your-eye howlers along the way. Ms Portman (above and below) is most definitely the star, but her supporting cast is good enough to keep viewers on their toes.

In addition to Edgerton, shown below, that cast includes Noah Emmerich as Jane's wounded husband, whose initial appearance starts the ball rolling, and a nearly unrecognizable Ewan McGregor (two photos below) as the chief baddie and revenge-seeker (though this is the kind of movie in which almost everyone seems to want revenge for something or other).

It is also a very violent movie, in which torturous pain is inflicted prior to death. So this may turn off more than a few viewers. Those remaining (who probably enjoy the western genre or they wouldn't be here) can feed off the stark but lovely landscapes and the slow-burning plot, in which Jane must call upon her ex-boyfriend to help her hubby and herself survive the coming onslaught.

The plot is not all that unusual -- there's a set-up for a huge explosion that we can be sure is coming -- but there is a small surprise or two along the way (one of these is provided by a bird). By the shoot-em-up climax, we've been treated to enough of those why-the-fuck-didn't-he-pull-the-trigger-when-he-had-the-chance moments to render the film silly, which leaves (spoiler just ahead) its feel-good denouement something less than believable.

Budd Boetticher's fine B-movie westerns still remain the genre's high point. See Seven Men From Now or Comanche Station for proof -- and these are around a half-hour shorter, too. (That's Boyd Holbrook, above, as one of the current film's lesser bad guys.)

Meanwhile, Jane Got a Gun -- from The Weinstein Company and Anchor Bay Entertainment and running 98 minutes -- hits the street on Blu-ray (in a nice transfer), DVD and VOD this Tuesday, April 26, after being available on Digital HD since April 15 -- for either purchase or rental.

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