Western Jane Got a Gun finally reaches the screen following a turbulent production that saw the departure of original director Lynne Ramsay (We Need To Talk About Kevin) and successive male co-stars stars Michael Fassbender, Jude Law and Bradley Cooper, female lead Natalie Portman remaining steadfastly in place.
The vestiges of a lean, mean, feminist Western remain visible as Portman’s doughty frontierswoman, Jane Hammond, strives to preserve her wounded, bedridden husband (Noah Emmerich) from a remorseless outlaw gang but is forced to call on the help of the man who was once her fiancé, Joel Edgerton’s laconic Civil War veteran, Dan Frost, to defend her secluded ranch.
The slow-burn build-up to a final showdown is, of course, a standard Western narrative device, but director Gavin O’Connor repeatedly defuses tension by cutting away to convoluted flashbacks revealing its characters’ emotionally tangled backstories. That’s a shame, as Portman and Edgerton turn in sturdy performances, while a near-unrecognisable Ewan McGregor oozes menace as their evil adversary.
Certificate 15. Runtime 98 mins. Director Gavin O’Connor