Cowboys & Aliens Dir: Jon Favreau

For all the title conjures up, Cowboys & Aliens just delivers what’s on the tin. It has cowboys, it has aliens, but it just doesn’t rustle up the fun b-grade showdown you’d expect with the director of Iron Man at the reins.

It’s the Wild West and the man with no memory (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere with a strange bracelet on his wrist. He rides into a struggling local desert town and runs straight into trouble. First, by the man who controls it through fear, Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), then by aliens who are abducting local residents. And the mysterious gunslinger holds the only hope of bringing them back.

Cowboys & Aliens has a crack whip of an opening. Director Jon Favreau crafts tension and atmosphere and some humour for about half an hour then it all just sadly rots away once the aliens arrive.

Favreau, and executive producer Steven Spielberg, could have just made a great modern western with the talented cast they assembled. But sadly, with having to cram in so much character development before the aliens turn up, the supporting cast of Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde (Tron), Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood), Adam Beach (Flags of our Fathers), and Keith Carradine are wasted. Though Craig’s ‘don’t F with me’ demeanor has Eastwood’s swagger, and Ford is immensely enjoyable playing against type as the iron-fisted cattle rancher.

The aliens themselves are revealed far too early and the human / alien fighting is far too inconsistent. One minute bullets are harmlessly bouncing off the aliens’ hide and then a spear and a single shot to the head takes one down. And my friend made a valid point about the futuristic tech that Craig has. If someone with a gun was sent back to the days of spears he could conquer all. But if he had to face a modern day army with the same weapons he wouldn’t last long. So how come when Craig faces the aliens with the same tech, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel?

If you catch this on TV a few years from now at least you can say you didn’t waste your money. Such a good start and such great talent is just left to meander to a drawn out and inconsistent ending. In the rush to adapt every comic book out there, it’s the movie studios own fault. Not everything has to be high concept big thrills; a modern cowboy movie would have just as easily roped them in.

Clayton Barnett

Click here to watch the trailer for Cowboys & Aliens: