Cowboys. Aliens. Cowboys fighting aliens. James Bond and Indiana Jones vs. otherworldly Martian scum. A horrible conglomeration or a whole lot of awesomeness?
Cowboys and Aliens, directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau, centres on Daniel Craig’s character Jake Lonergan. Your quintessential tough guy from the west, Lonergan wakes up in the middle of the desert, with no recollection of who he is, or what the funky contraption locked around his wrist might be. After discovering he is able to deliver damn good ass-kickings, he swaggers into the little-old town of Absolution. Lonergan wastes no time in giving the local shit-stirrer Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) what for. Cue some ominously familiar shaped lights in the sky and tendrils viciously yanking the townspeople away. It’s here we find out Lonergan’s bracelet is a whole lot more than a pretty fashion accessory. Now it’s up to the rag-tag bunch of gun-toting men (and woman) to get their people back.
If you go into it expecting an intellectually stimulating storyline with soul searching characters and emotions galore, don’t. Go see, I dunno, The Smurfs or something. This is a no holds barred shoot-em-up Western crossed with heavy SFX and CGI aliens. It’s exactly what the title says it’s going to be, and, it’s actually pretty decent. Daniel Craig plays Lonergan straight and narrow. Silent and somewhat stereotypical, but it works with the clichéd dynamic of the film. Olivia Wilde plays the mysterious Ella, whose relationship with Lonergan is a bit disjointed and unusual. I suppose they had to put a pretty lady in there somewhere though, didn’t they. But its Harrison Ford’s Woodrow Dolarhyde that I was most anticipating, and his menacing exterior coupled with moments of genuine but subtle tenderness do not disappoint.
This is an enjoyable piece of mindless, explosion ridden gun slinging entertainment. Have fun, go along for the ride. The battle scenes are effective (the sound effects were actually a standout), there’s a little comedy, a little romance, a little bit of everything that makes a blockbuster. It’s a film that’s not ashamed of what it is. The alien’s themselves are quite unique, in that their motive is exactly that of the humans of the set time period. And I’ll say no more. They have absolutely no empathetic qualities. And that’s ok. (And boy, they look disGUSTING.)
In short, a fun mindless action-western romp that’s extremely likeable, clichéd and unashamed.
Cowboys and Aliens: Below Average