The title truly says it all.
Cowboys & Aliens is essentially a genre mash-up that is as fun to watch as its silly title implies.
Based on the graphic novel and directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the film is a simple yarn involving one 1800s-era small Western town’s attempt to thwart off an alien invasion. Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, a wanted man who ends up in the Arizona town of Absolution. He has no idea how he ended up there but, saddled with an foreign bracelet that implies he’s been somewhere, he helps the very townsfolk who arrest him when aliens come attacking.
Along for the ride is Harrison Ford–in all his older gruff glory he’s perfected over the years–as corrupt cattle rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde, who relcutantly joins up with Lonergan after discovering that that bracelet is actually an alien weapon that possesses the only real defense against the extraterrestrials.
Craig is surprisingly everything you’d expect from an Old West cowboy–stoic, controlled and equipped with the bad-ass moves of a Clint Eastwood character (or James Bond, considering the actor). Olivia Wilde also diversifies her resume as the elusive Ella Swensen, a woman who seeks out Lonergan for information and guidance. She’s perfect for her role in that she could just as easily be an 1800s Woman of the Wild West with a shady past.
You also can’t beat the supporting cast that includes no less than Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano and Clancy Brown.
Favreau applies his honed skills to the action sequences here in Cowboys & Aliens that thankfully doesn’t rely on 3D or an overabundance of CGI to keep it exciting. And while it’s hard to whip up a truly original alien these days, at least these creatures feel menacing.
Of all the so-called summer blockbusters out this year, this one feels the closest to a real popcorn flick. It’s easy to follow but not totally stupid and it genuinely entertains and doesn’t try to be more than it is.
If you’re looking for anything other than Cowboys & Aliens from this summer flick, you might want to catch one of those Marvel blockbusters again. Here you’re getting exactly what you pay to see.