The Gist: A man who cannot remember his past, and whose arm is adorned with some type of machinery, may be the only person to defend a small Arizona town from alien invaders in 1873.
First Impressions: This is the one summer film that is up in the air. Certainly a different story merging the old west with extraterrestrial life is interesting, and each actor has proven they can hold their own. Much depends on the ending to whether the movie will sink or swim and, based on a certain scene in the trailer, this reviewer is pretty sure it gives too much away.
This is the kind of film you go to the drive-in for, and have a good time watching, but probably won’t see a second time. A lacking story and plot holes went toe-to-toe with great actors and a unique idea.
Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) is truly a lone cowboy who cannot remember how he got in the middle of the Arizona desert with an odd wound on his side and wide metal wristlet stuck on his arm. When Jake gets to the town of Absolution, he discovers he is a wanted man for arson, theft, and the murder of a prostitute; he also catches the eye of local Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) who may know more about his past than he does. The man whose gold he has been charged with stealing, Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), is none too kindly to Jake. Differences are soon put aside when alien crafts begin attacking the town, taking Woodrow’s son Percy (Paul Dano), the wife of the town Doc (Sam Rockwell), and the Sherriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine). The heroes must face something out of this world to bring back the kidnapped humans.
It is no surprise that Ford and Craig delivered spectacular performances. That town almost wasn’t big enough for the two of these actors. Notably, Ford showed the complexity of his character, a bully disappointed in his son who exhibits the same attributes. Yet his love for his son and helplessness at controlling the situation also come into view. Craig’s British accent remained undetectable, even when speaking opposite a character with similar speech.
The blending of two separate genres together, as many must have been skeptical at the idea, was handled well. Old western period costumes and music set the stage while the introduction of flying alien crafts created something new. A trading of weaponry, with Jake donning alien technology and the crafts lassoing people, helped the merging genres.
However, the six (yes six) writers left much to be desired in regards to the story. Many characters and back stories had been mentioned though nothing stringing the body of work together. Like Jake’s struggle to cure his temporary amnesia, the audience had nothing to go on other than guessing at the alien intentions. Their motive, by the way, made little sense and the ending, not as impactful as it could have been. Meanwhile, still trying to figure out the “boat” scene and if deleted scenes could have explained it further.
Again, this film was entertaining enough to go out and see while it is still in theaters (and if you have not seen it yet, this is the perfect movie to see at Bengies Drive-In). Overall, it probably will not be a movie you will want to see again and again.
One Positive Critique: A good amount of laughs popped up throughout the film. Dano started it off with slight physical comedy, being the brunt of the joke, and Rockwell continued with witty one-liners.
Gain an appreciation for the work that went into the costuming, particularly the slight nod to Ford’s previous films featuring him in a brimmed hat.