Based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, there's nothing misleading about the title Cowboys and Aliens, a genre blending action adventure, in which cowboys and aliens battle it out in an Old West setting. It's a crazy idea, and one that's hard to take too seriously, but director Jon Favreau (responsible for Iron Man and the kiddie sci-fi flick Zathura) does indeed take a very serious approach.
There's the occasional funny quip and comedic moment, but Favreau's gruff cowboys refuse to acknowledge there's anything amusing or unusual about this film, a B-grade mix of western and alien invasion movies. Dealing with aliens, it seems, is just another problem you face in the Wild West.
The film kicks off in Arizona in 1873, when Daniel Craig wakes up in the desert with a strange, foreign-looking shackle around his wrist and no memory of who he is or how he got there. Stumbling into the troubled town of Absolution, he discovers his name is Jake Lonergan and there's a bounty on his head. As the local sheriff is preparing to ship Jake off and collect his reward, the town is attacked by aliens who fly in and snatch the locals.
Luckily, it turns out the strange contraption attached to Jake's wrist is perfect for bringing down alien craft and when one of the alien monsters is brought down, Jake gets together with local landowner and town bully Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford) and other townsfolk to track it down and bring back the prisoners.
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Favreau is more than competent with the special effects, everything is executed seamlessly - including the slimy, large, bug-like CGI aliens. Style over substance is the name of the game here. There's plenty of action, including run-ins with outlaws, Apache warriors and, of course, those pesky aliens but each sequence starts to feel similar after a while - whenever things get dicey you know Craig's bracelet is going to blast them out of it.
Craig, at least, does it in style. Channelling Clint Eastwood, his anti-hero cowboy doesn't say much, preferring to spend his time gazing intently at the camera or into the distance, all piercing blue eyes and rugged good looks. Harrison Ford gives a solid performance as well but even these stars struggle to maintain the film's momentum.
Although the mix of genres is unusual, all the elements that go into this story are familiar, be it with the characters, stories or special effects. If you love cowboy or alien movies, then this has everything you need in one place.
It's entertaining, but as we roll up to this film's predictable showdown ending, a sense of relief prevails - 118 minutes seems a long time to watch those varmints get run out of town.
Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Director: Jon Favreau
Running time: 118 mins
Rating: M (violence)
Verdict: Bond meets Indiana Jones in good-looking, mindless entertainment that would benefit from a sense of humour.