I gotta admit. After Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I was worried that we had lost Harrison Ford into the fray. No. It was just a bad idea to make another Indy movie. He delivers once again with his role as a grizzly old cowboy in Cowboys & Aliens.
I must admit, with that title, the bar is set pretty high. Cowboys and aliens are two great movie ideas. It’s like peanut butter & chocolate. Riggs & Murtaugh. Rocky & Apollo. Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. I could go on. The casting also puts James Bond alongside Indiana Jones. Maybe this is going a little over the top?
In this case, the setting is the Arizona Old West in 1873. A lone man (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert with a weapon of some sorts strapped to his wrist. He can’t remember who he is or how he got there. He slowly starts putting the pieces together as he bands together with a posse of Cowboys and Native Americans to fight off a horde of alien abductors.
Craig plays outlaw Jake Lonergan and needs to do nothing but deliver that icy stare of his to impress. He is a rough and tough hombre and is a lot of the glue that keeps this movie together. Ford plays the brilliantly named Woodrow Dolarhyde who provides the role of mean guy with a good heart. Think his portrayal of policeman John Book from 1985’s Witness.
While you could argue that there isn’t a ton of intriguing dialogue, or that the story doesn’t quite embrace the feel of a true western, I still enjoyed it. Cowboys & Aliens is a silly idea. I expected some campiness. I expect to trade depth for a little more action.
Director Jon Favreau also gets credit for relying less heavily on special effects and more on his characters to drive the movie. The supporting cast (Sam Rockwell, Keith Carridine, Olivia Wilde and Paul Dano) also gives this push in a positive direction. Another toast to Favreau, no 3D. Its a fun movie that doesn’t need it. Well done.