Review: ‘Calamity Jane’

It’s An “Olicity” Reunion As Emily Bett Rickards And Stephen Amell Star In A Revenge Western

I’m going to try not to reference The CW’s Arrow too much in this review. After all, Calamity Jane is headlined by Emily Bett Rickards and Stephen Amell, who make up one of our favorite Arrowverse couples. Oliver and Felicity had great chemistry, so much so that they eventually became a couple on the show after fans shipped them hard. So it’s good to see the two actors paired together. Even more interesting is that it’s in a Western, which is a genre we don’t get to see too often nowadays. So how was Calamity Jane?

Martha Jane Canary (Emily Bett Rickards) is best known as one of the most famous female gunslingers during the days of the Wild, Wild West. In Calamity Jane, we are treated to her superhero origin story as she embarks on a revenge quest after her recently married husband (and partner in crime) Wild Bill Hickok (Stephen Amell) is gunned down in a poker game and she has to escape custody and then enact her revenge on her husband’s killer.

Calamity Jane begins with Jane being escorted to Deadwood by Sheriff Mason (Tim Rozon) for one of her crimes when their stagecoach is attacked by thieves. Even though Jane is an outlaw, she’s a “good” outlaw and helps the sheriff defend against the bandits killing them. Her reward: she still has to go to jail. Mason is a by-the-book lawman. At the same time, her new husband Wild Bill arrives in the town of Deadwood and is waiting for her to be arranged and released as he just bought a plot of land for the two of them to settle in for the next chapter of their lives. In the meantime, Wild Bill and decides to blow off some steam by playing poker and drinking. Unfortunately, Bill talks smack to the wrong guy and is gunned down while playing poker.

Jane learns about her husband’s death while in her jail cell, and she immediately breaks out trying to get justice. In the aftermath, her husband’s killer guns a lawman, but it looks like Jane did it, so now she has to go on the run, and at the same time try and chase down her husband’s killer. As a result, we are treated to a cat-and-mouse game with Jane going after her target, and Sheriff Mason going after her through Calamity Jane’s hour and thirty-five-minute runtime up until its explosive finale.

For fans who were shipping for a proper “Olicity” Arrowverse reunion, you may want to proper your expectations for Calamity Jane. Stephen Amell’s appearance operates more like a de facto cameo. He and Emily Bett Rickards may share about ten minutes of screen time before his untimely demise in the film. Ironically this is one of the few films of late that has a “reverse fridge” and Wild Bill’s death is in service to the female’s character development instead of the other way around. Speaking of character development, there isn’t much in the film. Emily Bett Rickards gives a good performance for what she is given script-wise, but Calamity Jane treads water in between shootout scenes.

Calamity Jane is a “Tubi Films Original” which given how Tubi is often the butt of so many jokes and memes on social media for their poor scripts and production quality will probably make some eyes roll as soon as the banner shows up at the beginning of the film. However, the production quality is very good. For a free streaming service, they managed to make the film visually look like the premium streaming services it competes with. Surprisingly, Calamity Jane wasn’t released on Tubi as it opted for a theatrical and VOD release instead. However, like most of what pops up on Tubi, the script isn’t strong and there are large periods where it doesn’t feel like “anything” of value is happening. As stated, Emily Bett Rickards and Tim Rozon give fine performances. The film is also taking artistic liberty with the real-life story of Emily Bett Rickards it might have been better served not being about Jane but some fictitious female gunslinger instead.

Calamity Jane is currently available in theaters and On Demand.