Cowboys & Aliens Review: Predictable But Entertaining


It’s James Bond meets Indiana Jones in the Wild Wild West’s version of Independence Day. I’m not kidding. That is a pretty accurate description of the film. While I was initially skeptical of this summer flick, I ended up rather enjoying it. If you can suspend your disbelief that you’re watching a western movie filled with aliens, you can actually end up somewhat appreciating the action and sarcastic humor.

The film starts off with Jake, a lone cowboy played by Daniel Craig, waking up in the desert. He’s forgotten who is and has no idea why he has a big snazzy bracelet attached to his arm. A group of passerbys assume the bracelet means he’s an escaped convict, and they should bring him into town to collect the reward. Jake may not remember who he is, but he clearly remembers how to kick ass. After killing everyone, he steals their clothes and weapons and makes his way into town where he continues to solidify his “I don’t take crap from anyone” demeanor.

Though Jake does end up taking crap from a pretty broad named Ella (Olivia Wilde) who knocks him upside the head so that the local sheriff can capture him. As he’s about to be sent on his way to the federal courthouse, the town is attacked by aliens. When the attack concludes, the remaining townspeople decide to band together and go after the other-worldly creatures in order to save their loved ones. Among the townspeople are Doc (Sam Rockwell) who wants to save his wife, Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who wants to save his belligerent son, Ella (who we’re still not sure her connection to the town or why she wants to help at this point), and a bunch of expendables who will shortly meet their demise.

And the adventure beings.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly how old Harrison Ford is. For me, I look at him and always see Indiana Jones – always will. It doesn’t matter how old he gets, he’ll always be a bad-ass in my book, and he is a bad-ass in this film as well. Then there’s Daniel Craig…. Daniel Craig does an excellent job at being effortless sexy while covered in blood and dirt – which is good because his performance here is a little one-dimensional. Sure he’s forgotten who he is and where he’s come from… He’s the brooding sexy guy who doesn’t take crap for anyone, and while he has an emotional backstory, the audience still doesn’t feel any connection to him. At least Ford makes us laugh.

It’s rather comical to see some of the battle scenes. Shotguns really don’t have much of an effect on space crafts – in case you were wondering. The writers got that though, so they put in a nice little loop hole for themselves with Craig’s character having one of the mind-controlled-shoot-them-up bracelets that the aliens had. This made the rather predictable ending possible – otherwise it would have been just a blood bath filled with grimy aliens opening up their chest and reaching out with placenta-covered hands to kill the entire cast.

Overall, it’s a good summer popcorn flick despite being predictable. Even though the genre mash-up made a lot of us giggle at first – there’s so much more that could have been done here to actually impress us. If there has ever been a movie in which steampunk should be explored – it’s this one. Instead, our other-worldly creatures bore us with typical weaponry and cave-like spaceships. Sure, the initial method used to capture the townsfolk was original – but that’s pretty much the only aspect that was.

It is entertaining – just not memorable.

Grade: C+
Review By: Emma Loggins

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