Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) and Harrison Ford (Raiders of the Lost Ark), who has played the most iconic characters in cinema history, are cowboys fighting for their lives against aliens in the Old West in Cowboys & Aliens.
Set in the year 1873, a man (Craig) wakes up in the middle of the desert with a strange bracelet on his left wrist and no memory of who he is. He ends up arriving in the town of Absolution where he quickly runs into trouble that lands him in jail. When a local cattle baron shows up in Absolution to confront this man, strange light appear in the sky. These lights turn out to be alien spaceships that end up abducting several citizens of Absolution including the sheriff (Keith Carradine) and the cattle baron’s son (Paul Dano). The man with amnesia and the cattle baron team up with other non-abducted citizens to find out where their people went and what these so-called “demons” want.
Directed by Jon Favreau, Cowboys & Aliens is another disappointment in the season of the summer blockbusters. You would think that the combination of the men who played James Bond and Indiana Jones joining forces on the big screen and the talent of the director who helmed Iron Man would result in a great movie. However, this sci-fi/Western hybrid becomes surprisingly boring and dull.
The screenplay, which was written by some of the writers who wrote the first Iron Man, has a predictable and dull story. It starts well within the first half hour of the film with this film succeeding where films like Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex failed as a straightforward western with a twist. Eventually, the movie does falls flat on its own face once the search for the abducted people begins. It also does not help that the movie also has aliens with an unoriginal look and cowboys that fall into stereotypical categories that we have seen in previous Western movies. Another problem that Cowboys & Aliens has is that with a movie that has cowboys and aliens throwing down fisticuffs with one another, it takes itself too seriously like a serious drama.
There are some bits and pieces in Cowboys & Aliens that is has some very little redeemable qualities that include great cinematography from Matthew Libatique and a descent performance from Daniel Craig. Libatique’s work on this movie works quite well in capturing the sights of the Old West. Just like how Craig managed to slip into the shoes of James Bond, he embodies the role of the cowboy with amnesia that could be as tough as Indiana Jones with him delivering and receiving vicious blows to the body. This film does succeed where films like Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex failed as a straightforward western with a science fiction twist.
While Daniel Craig does his best to support this movie, the rest of the main characters are truly one-dimensional and not interesting at all. Ford’s role as the grouchy cattle baron is nothing new compared to what other characters Ford have played in the past. His eventual character arc from mean old man to brave old man is quite predictable. Olivia Wilde plays a beautiful woman who does not seem to get any dirt on her pretty head or face. In this film, Wilde is basically reduced to being eye candy for any of the men who would go see this film.
With an interesting premise to boot, Cowboys & Aliens turns out to be a disappointing movie that is comes with familiar clichés and stereotypical characters that we have seen in other Western films.
Cowboys & Aliens open in Hialeah theaters today. For showtimes, go here.