Despite what you may think a glaringly obvious move, there is nary an Aerosmith tune in this whole dang movie. Sure it’s a western set in the 1800s, but that wouldn’t have stopped Baz Luhrmann, I’ll tell you that much, pard’ner.
When Jane’s husband comes home all shot up with bad guys on his tail, she’s got no choice but to hustle up the services of the nearest hired gun…who just happens to be her ex-lover.
I’ve never been in an old-timey gun fight (knock wood!) but I imagine the only thing worse than being laid up in bed full of bullet holes, gangrene mere moments away, is to watch your wife fall into the sexy arms of her much-handsomer ex-boyfriend as he protects the both of you and you’re too weak to even protest. How embarrassing!
Although I’d say it’s way more embarrassing to have made such a generic film with absolutely no personality despite passable performances by Natalie Portman and Joel Edgerton (full disclosure: Ewan McGregor is purportedly also in this film but I totally failed to notice him…if the story checks out, you may remember that these three appeared together in the Star Wars prequels, so they do have a history of making bad choices).
It’s not exactly a surprise that this film failed to make a saloon-worthy splash, it was syphilitic with trouble since day one. Actually, since the day before day one, which is when the original director, Lynne Ramsay, walked off the project after a 3-day stand-off with producers who refused to give her final cut. Cinematographer Darius Khondji followed in solidarity, as did Jude Law. Bradley Cooper was brought on to replace him, with Gavin O’Connor in the director’s seat, totally unprepared. Michael Fassbender had already left over clashes with Ramsey so when Cooper left, Joel Edgerton was shuffled over from bad guy to good and Ewan McGregor took up the baddie role. It’s kind of a miracle this movie got made at all, and maybe they should have just left well enough alone.
Not that it’s despicable, it’s just not very entertaining. It looks really good in spots but it’s got the plot of every western you’ve ever seen, interspersed with confusing flash-backs. And I must say: huge missed opportunity. This could have been a table-turning, gun-slinging feminist western but instead Portman dispassionately pinballs from one man to the next and is very much a damsel in distress and that made me one disinterested dame.