Jane Got A Gun Blu-ray Review

Natalie Portman highlights this typical western

Jane Got A Gun’s most notable feature might be Natalie Portman leading the Western film. A star actress with an adventurous streak in her choice of roles, Portman isn’t the first actress I would have thought of to play this role. It’s quirky casting for what is a straightforward tale of guns and violent vengeance, albeit with a twinge of romance thrown in to move things along.

Jane Got A Gun is a tragic love story wrapped inside a push-button Western. By push button, I mean it hits all the standard notes in its fairly predictable storytelling. That doesn’t necessarily make it a poor film. This is a Western through and through, made for fans comfortable with the genre’s conventions. Jane Got A Gun doesn’t attempt to reinvent the Western but hopes to tell a lightly engaging tale of loss and love. It is aided by a strong cast and slick direction.

It is 1871 in the New Mexico territory. Jane Hammond (Natalie Portman) has built a life on the rugged western frontier with her husband Bill ‘Ham’ Hammond (Noah Emmerich) and young daughter. When her husband stumbles home riddled with bullets after a run-in with the notorious outlaw John Bishop (Ewan McGregor in a mildly forgettable role) and his gang, she knows her family’s lives are in jeopardy. In desperation, Jane turns to Dan Frost (Joel Edgerton) for help, a man from her past she knew long before her husband. The tension between the two men is palpable.

This is a dusty, sweeping Western with a nice mix of action and character development. The narrative is complicated with a series of flashbacks that reveal Jane’s past, both with her husband and with Dan Frost. Once a member of Bishop’s gang, we slowly learn why Jane feels so loyal to her dying husband. Bishop and his men are coming for them, driving Jane to seek out help from the only gunslinger around. It’s evident Dan Frost has a bitter relationship with Jane now, but hints indicate a deep well of feeling for the woman. Helping her out in this mess may be a suicide mission.

This isn’t the tale of a lone woman running wild over the West with guns drawn in some kind of revisionist fantasy.

Some interested viewers may be scared away by this movie’s name and associated marketing, which plays up Natalie Portman’s character as some sort of western heroine with guns blazing. The drama and action is far more nuanced. This isn’t the tale of a lone woman running wild over the West with guns drawn in some kind of revisionist fantasy. It’s the tale of a strong mother and wife doing everything in her power to save her family. What it does explore are the choices she has made during her tough life and what led to them.

Jane Got A Gun is a solid Western missing that extra something. The narrative and themes are somewhat predictable if you know your Westerns. Natalie Portman handles her role with aplomb, though the character is forgettable at the end of the day. Male lead Joel Edgerton doesn’t throw off the necessary presence needed to match Portman. That could be the problem.

Jane Got a Gun Blu-ray screen shot 9

Video

Starz/Anchor Bay distributes Jane Got A Gun on Blu-ray in this consistently excellent, film-like presentation. Yes, the movie has been shot on 35mm film, which seems like an increasing rarity these days. The fully realized Western cinematography is scenic and mature, taking full advantage of its 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The 97-minute main features comes in a nearly flawless AVC video encode on a BD-25. Clarity and definition remain strong throughout the film.

Like many period-set movies, Jane Got A Gun’s palette has been desaturated and graded at the digital intermediate level. That ensures a consistently dark, amber tint with fine contrast and perfect black levels. The muted tonality isn’t blindingly bright. There is palpable depth and dimension to the video. Close-ups reveal strong indicators of high-frequency content and fine detail.

The film transfer has been handled with the utmost care and fidelity. We have come a long way from the early days of the Blu-ray format. This is a nigh perfect digital replication of modern film stock in 1080P resolution. I can’t fault it in any way.

Audio

Jane Got A Gun’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack rings with authority when needed. The mix’s massive dynamic range does lead to booming audio at times, especially when gun shots are unexpected.

Dialogue is intelligible but on the soft side, low in the mix. The gun fights boast a fine display of directional cues and accurate sound design, giving the LFE channel a severe workout. The movie is light on action for a traditional Western, so its more impressive audio moments are confined to several key scenes.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles display in a white font, inside the scope framing of the film at all times.

Extras

The only included special features are two trailers that precede the main menu. An UltraViolet digital copy redeems in HDX on VUDU and other UV providers.

Trailers (04:02 in HD) – The Hateful Eight, MacBeth

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.


Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.