Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde
Directed by Jon Favreau
With the long weekend staring us down and taunting us as we get through one more day of work here in our city of Toronto, the eternal question that comes around every Friday is upon us. What are we going to see this weekend? I suspect the answer for most people will be the inevitable box office champ for the upcoming weekend, get comfy ‘cause out today in theatres it’s time for Cowboys & Aliens.
Cowboys & Aliens brings us to The Old West, it’s 1873 in the Arizona Territory where a stranger with no memory of his past (Craig)stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a strange shackle that’s on his wrist. He ultimately discovers that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the firm hand of Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear, but Absolution is about to experience fear it can’t comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Flying down with breakneck speed and blinding lights to abduct the helpless townsfolk one at a time, these monsters are challenging everything the residents have ever known and believed in. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation, as this stranger slowly starts to remember who he is, where he’s been and what is actually happening.
Whenever I see writing credits for a screenplay there tends to be a number that you don’t go over so that the collaborative process doesn’t get too muddy, that number is usually 3 or 4…for Cowboys & Aliens it’s 7, however with some high grade names like Damon Lindelof, Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci who come out of the JJ Abrams school of storytelling and are and have been showrunners of TV shows like Lost & Fringe, my concerns were somewhat averted. The script is solid yet unremarkable, not a lot of exposition from a story standpoint but it keeps it moving. It occasionally loses its way, not balancing the action and tense moments with the comedy, as there were parts where we were laughing and I suspect we weren’t supposed to be. Director Jon Favreau knows how to direct action as everything looked great and the effects didn’t feel overly clunky or fake, but this was a movie about Cowboys & Aliens so the viewers know to just turn their brain off and go with it and when things went a little sideways from a story perspective, Favreau was quick to right the ship with an action sequence to get the audience back on point.
Daniel Craig as the mysterious stranger was well cast, but the comic elements of the story should probably have been dialed back or refined somewhat as this type of comedy doesn’t come as naturally to him as it may have for the first choice Robert Downey Jr. Harrison Ford is simply playing Harrison Ford at this point, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing he got to have a little bit of fun playing his role with a bit of a dark edge that eventually softened up as the alien threat got more real. Olivia Wilde didn’t get to do much with her role, but was a more than acceptable as Ella who we knew was a little off the minute we met her.
At the end of the day, Cowboys & Aliens was a fun movie but with a slightly uneven script and a cast this good looking playing cowboys you know that this isn’t a movie you’re going to be able to take very seriously after you’ve walked out of the theatre. This is fun, popcorn style entertainment, but not much else.
3 out of 5 stars.
Cowboys & Aliens is playing at theatres across Toronto, click here for a list of showtimes.
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