Jon Favreau returns to the director’s seat with Cowboys & Aliens, his first film since Iron Man 2. Based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name, the concept of the wild west merging with an alien invasion is anything but dull. Unfortunately the same can not be said of the film adaptation.
Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of the desert, unaware of who he is or how he got there. But when approached by a group of vandals, he has a Jason Borne-esque moment where he takes them all on in a blink of an eye. This is one badass cowboy you don’t want to mess with. Eventually he finds his way into the town of Absolution, where he quickly proves himself to the locals by standing up to Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), who is the town bully – if you will. He also happens to be the son of the most powerful man in town, Colonial Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). After their scuffle, Jake finds his way into a local bar ran by Doc (Sam Rockwell) and his wife Maria (Ana de la Reguera) who make sure his drink is on the house. Unfortunately before he can finish, the sheriff and his men bust in and let him know that he is a wanted man. With the help of a mysterious woman named Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) they are able to contain the outlaw.
Now you are probably wondering, “Where are the aliens?” Just wait, it’s coming.
Jake and Percy end up in the sheriff’s wagon, on their way to be judged for their crimes, when old Colonial Dolarhyde comes to free his son. But before anything can be done, what appears to be a flying row of flames starts approaching from the distance. The moment we have all been waiting for – the aliens arrive. Havoc ensues, explosions and guns a’ blazing left and right, and people are getting snatched by the alien invasion. All seems helpless, until a mysterious metal device on Jake’s arm opens and fires a blast like a canon into one of the space ships. The townspeople know that this is the man who can help them get their people back.
The concept of the film is certainly intriguing, even just based on the title – Cowboys & Aliens. That’s what makes it so unique and original, and sets up your expectations for an explosive amalgamation of the wild west meets an alien invasion. I went into the movie with expectations that weren’t extremely high – but I was ready to see an action-packed summer blockbuster. Unfortunately, I found myself in a film with an incredible cast that didn’t have much to work with. There should have been much more action, epic battles, and the main character should have been demolishing his enemies left and right. But what ended up happening was a bunch of predictable, cliche action sequences that fizzled out most of the time. Not to mention that all of the aliens received their training at the same academy that the Imperial Stormtroopers attended. Don’t you hate it when an advanced alien species can’t use their sophisticated weaponry and targeting system to kill an enemy right in front of them?
The cast of the film is awesome, and there are so many actors that I respect. And they did the best job they possibly could, without a doubt. Daniel Craig is awesome in the lead, and anyone who has seen him as 007 knows he can pull off the role of “badass.” Harrison Ford is great in the movie, and has one of the most likable characters I’ve seen him play in a while. He plays the perfect angry old man who you know is a good person, deep down inside. Olivia Wilde is great as Ella, and will surely please the mostly male demographic who will be watching. Sam Rockwell is one of my favorite actors right now, and I’m glad he is getting attention in some big movies. He is great as Doc, and probably one of the most fun characters on-screen throughout the entire picture. Throw in some other fine actors like Paul Dano and Adam Beach, and you have the makings of a great movie. Unfortunately there just wasn’t enough going on to make any of them too interesting.
It is a shame that a movie with a title as epic as Cowboys & Aliens could end up being as dull and uninteresting as it is. I won’t go as far as to say it is a terrible movie, by any means, but it just isn’t what you expect. Coming from Jon Favreau, who clearly knows how to make a summer blockbuster, I expected much more action. If you are a fan of westerns, you will probably enjoy some of the throwbacks in this film, but don’t expect to be watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly with aliens.
Cowboys and Aliens is a C-