Runtime: 112 minutes
In Detroit-area theaters: today, July 29th
3.5 stars out of 5
Cowboys & Aliens is receiving mixed reviews, but I liked it a lot. A few people I knew who also went to the screening complained that it was slow-paced, but I am usually the first to jump on the “This movie is tooooo slow” train, and I didn’t feel that way this time. They will also say that they expected more from it; but really, with a title like Cowboys & Aliens, how much can you expect in the first place?
Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig, “Quantum of Solace”) wakes up in the middle of cowboy country (New Mexico, late 1800s), not knowing who is he or how he got there. He has a mysterious techy-looking bracelet on his arm that won’t come off. A band of men on horses see him and aim to take him in, in case he’s wanted for something, but he disarms them all easily, and that is the first time that we get an inkling of his past life and who he was in it. Jake finds himself in the town of Absolution, where he eventually sees an old foe, Woodrow (Harrison Ford, “Morning Glory”); he is about to “have words” with him when aliens invade and snatch up many of the townspeople. Woodrow and Jake decide to work together in order to get their people back, and along the way they find out that they actually work pretty well together after all.
Craig and Ford (aka James Bond and Indiana Jones) are good in this movie, but my favorite two characters were actually Percy (Paul Dano, “The Extra Man”) and Ella (Olivia Wilde, TV’s “House). Paul Dano absolutely steals the show, but unfortunately is not in the movie much after the first few scenes. Wilde’s character is definitely interesting, as she has a secret that Craig and Ford’s characters later learn, and she plays it well. In addition, Sam Rockwell (“Conviction”) plays the town doctor, whose wife is abducted by the aliens, and he goes along with Craig and Ford to help find her.
See this film. It’s a bit gorier than it looked like it would be, even though it’s rated PG-13, but the aliens are interesting and the movie is action-packed. There’s been a slew of alien-related movies out lately (Attack the Block, Paul, etc.), and each tries to out-do the other in terms of creativeness; although Cowboys & Aliens may not win that contest, what it lacks in its alien creativity it makes up for with its action scenes and character development, especially with Craig’s character. It’s not going to win any Oscars, but I actually enjoyed Cowboys more than Captain America (gasp!), and it’s a concept that definitely has not been done before.