Movie review: 'Cowboys & Aliens' - West meets E.T. for shoot-'em-up movie fun
Director Jon Favreau mixes sagebrush shoot-’em-up with science fiction freakiness in “Cowboys & Aliens”
and fires off a mash-up of movie genres that’s lightweight fun at a warp-speed gallop.
There’s a whole posse of writers credited for this thriller (six in all) which is usually a sign of trouble ahead, but all potential narrative bullets are dodged, the top-hand stars are all on target, and the special effects, non-stop action and gritty period look of this piece should satisfy horse opera enthusiasts and sci-fi fans alike.
Daniel Craig switches from James Bondian martinis and tailored tuxes to the rotgut whiskey and brush-scarred chaps of the iconic, laconic Western hero, filling those boots with a minimum of strain as a stranger who wakes up in the middle of the desert with an odd-looking shackle on his left wrist and no memory of who is, but possessed of an instinctual and deadly ability to take down three local yokels who happen by and attempt to take him prisoner for a possible reward.
After appropriating boots, cartridge belt, six-gun and hat (bad choice there) from the three corpses, he’s fully outfitted for the hero role and, in true loner hero tradition, rides one of the dead men’s horses into the dusty town of Absolution, New Mexico Territory, where he immediately gets crossways with its inhabitants.
First he puts down the bullying antics of a loudmouth named Percy Dolarhyde (a superbly obnoxious Paul Dano), who happens to be the spoiled son of powerful cattle baron Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford, convincingly rawhide-tough), who owns the town and tells everyone in it when to jump and how high.
Then the sheriff (Keith Carradine) recognizes the stranger from wanted posters as one Jake Lonergan, leader of a notorious outlaw gang. Now our hero has a name, plus the daunting task of resisting arrest against the sheriff and his handful of armed deputies, which he almost manages in heroic saloon-brawl fashion before he’s coldcocked from behind by a mysterious, sad-eyed beauty named Ella (a winning Olivia Wilde), who wears a pretty gingham dress and a great big revolver around her tiny waist.
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