Written by: Gino Barrica
Cowboys & Aliens, prior to its release, already confused potential audiences as to what kind of film it wanted to be. A tongue-in-cheek genre flick? A straight summer action thriller? Something in-between?
Having seen the movie, which hit theaters this weekend, it’s clear that the people behind the scenes tried to play it as straight as possible. Cowboys & Aliens tells us what would happen if big, bad aliens dropped in on a small, old west town. Daniel Craig, he of the say-little protagonist role, plays say-little protagonist Jake Lonergan, a man with a mysterious past and an even more mysterious contraption attached to his wrist. Lonergan appears to have something of a history with the powerful Woodrow Dolarhyde, played by Harrison Ford.
The first part of the movie starts to delve into the relationships between the two characters before the aliens show up and turn everything on its head. Before long, all that matters is that these cowboys need to stave off an invasion.
What did the film have going for it? Not only did it feature Craig and Ford, better known to geeks everywhere as James Bond and Han Solo, but the supporting cast included people like Sam Rockwell (from the excellent Moon), Keith Carradine, and Olivia Wilde (of the not-so-excellent Tron: Legacy). Not to mention, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) has had very few missteps as a director. Because of all this, I was expecting C&A to be a really good movie. I wanted it to be a really good movie.
So was it?
Parts of the movie were a delight, mostly when the cowboys and aliens square off. There are some genuinely fun and thrilling sequences in the final, climactic battle. And, Craig and Ford play some really badass cowboys. However, other parts just kind of fell flat. Stretches of the movie where it tries to be just a cowboy movie felt disjointed and seemed to drag on, Olivia Wilde’s character made no sense whatsoever, and, in the end, the movie tried to do too many things but ended up not doing any of them as well as it could.
In a summer filled with mediocre event films, this fits right in. The movie’s title is self-explanatory. Yes, there were cowboys. Yes, there were aliens. But, like too many movies I’ve seen this summer, there was also a lot of, well, “meh.”