2015 Certificate: 15

Synopsis

Plucky pioneer Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) has survival in her sights when her husband (Noah Emmerich) returns to their New Mexico ranch badly wounded after falling foul of his old boss, the notorious gang boss John Bishop (Ewan McGregor). Fearing for their lives, Jane enlists the help of her gun-slinging ex-lover (Joel Edgerton) as Bishop rounds up his posse for the inevitable showdown. Guns blaze and fates collide in a straight-shooting western that reunites Edgerton with director Gavin O'Connor after their acclaimed fight drama Warrior.

Director

  • Gavin O'Connor

Cast

  • Natalie Portman

  • Joel Edgerton

  • Ewan McGregor

  • Noah Emmerich

  • Rodrigo Santoro

  • Boyd Holbrook

  • Alex Manette

Review

Yep, Jane got a gun all right. Right after her husband got shot. Got himself into a ruckus with his old gang. So now they got trouble. She's got to get help. But the only help to be got is from her old boyfriend. Thing is, he got sore some years back when he got home from the war to find she got herself a new man. Him being the fella who got shot. Got that?

Good. Because that's pretty much the long and the short of it as Jane (Portman) and her grouchy ex Dan (Edgerton) batten down the hatches at her ranch and wait for bad guy Bishop (McGregor) to turn up.

There's a tad more to the story, as revealed in flashbacks that show how all their fates intertwined. But mostly it involves a whole lot of waiting and brooding, livened up by a bit of shooting practice and the occasional stand-off.

The story behind the production is actually more intriguing than what transpires on screen, with Michael Fassbender ditching his role as Dan after a clash with original director Lynne Ramsay... who also quit the day before filming was due to start following a dispute with the film's producer... taking her 'Bishop' Jude Law with her.

As a result, it all feels rather perfunctory. Ramsay's replacement Gavin O'Connor keeps it trotting along steadily enough but rarely breaks into a canter, and with McGregor's Bishop having no more depth than a silent movie villain (you can imagine him tweaking his moustache whilst tying Jane to a railway track), there's no real suspense.

Loose plotting also sees the bad guys take a heck of a lot longer to cover the same distances as the heroes, and the fact that the protagonists have lived in the same territory for years also means that other story elements - particularly a revelation involving Jane's first child - also fail to convince.

And given that the whole caboodle is geared towards the final showdown, the climax really ought to deliver more.

Like most modern westerns, the cinematography captures everything and everyone in the best light -good, bad or ugly. But, lacking the quirkiness of True Grit, the enigma of The Salvation, or the intensity of The Hateful Eight, this is the movie equivalent of refried beans.

Uncomplicated but unremarkable, Jane won't blow anyone away.

Elliott Noble