Jane Got A Gun, which was released with little fanfare in January and is now available on Netflix, could just as easily have been called This Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck?
In fact, I like that title better than Jane Got A Gun. As far as I’m concerned, I am no longer reviewing Jane Got A Gun. Instead, I am going to tell you about a film called The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck?
The film is a western, taking place shortly after the end of the Civil War. (Isn’t it interesting how every western recently produced has taken place shortly after the Civil War? Way to avoid awkward historical truths, Hollywood.) Jane (Natalie Portman) lives on an isolated farm, with her daughter and her husband, Bill Hammond (Noah Emmerich, who is wasted both figuratively and literally). Hammond used to be an outlaw but now, he’s a pretty good guy. But the Bishop Boys are still after him!
Who are the Bishop Boys?
Well, John Bishop is Ewan McGregor. He’s an evil businessman and a bounty hunter and he used to be in love with Jane but now it seems that he mostly just wants to collect the bounty that’s on Hammond’s head. I love Ewan McGregor but, as we all should have learned from his performance in Haywire, he doesn’t make the most convincing villain. McGregor is one of those actors who radiates an inner humanity. No actor falls in love as convincingly as Ewan McGregor. That’s what makes him a compelling actor but it also means that he’s totally miscast as a bounty hunting sociopath.
Anyway, the Bishop Boys end up putting five bullets in Hammond so he goes home to die. “The Bishop Boys are coming,” he says and Jane has to prepare for the upcoming siege. Fortunately, her surly neighbor, Dan (Joel Edgerton, who seems to be bored with the whole thing), just happens to be her former fiancée and he’s still in love with her, though he tries to hide his love behind bitterness and pithy one-liners. It also turns out that Dan was a hero in the Civil War but he’s weary of violence.
Don’t worry, though! Dan is still willing to kill. After all, not much would happen in the movie if Dan wasn’t willing to shoot people…
Anyway, The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck only lasts for 98 minutes but there’s a lot of hints that there was originally supposed to be a lot more to the movie than actually showed up on screen. We get a few lengthy flashbacks, all of which hint at a story that actually explores what it means to be a woman in a patriarchal society and which, if properly handled, would have made The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck the feminist western that it’s attempting to be. Watching this movie, you get the feeling that a lot of the original storyline was either not filmed or left on the cutting room floor.
To be honest, I really wanted this to be a great movie or, at the very least, a decent showcase for Natalie Portman, who was one of my favorite actresses even before Black Swan. However, I officially gave up on this film after 50 minutes. That was around the time that Dan started to ramble about life, death, and doin’ the ratt thang. It was all just so clichéd and the rest of the film wasn’t any better.
The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck? did receive some attention because its screenplay was included in the Black List, which claims to be an annual survey of the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood. The Black List is one of the greatest con jobs ever perpetrated by the film industry. While it’s true that American Hustle and The King’s Speech appeared on the Black List, a typical Black List screenplay usually turns out to be something like The Beaver, Broken City, or Cedar Rapids. You can add The Bishop Boys Are Coming And Who Gives A Fuck? to the long line of Black List scripts that became utterly forgettable movies.