In the Old West, a man wakes up in the desert with no idea how he got there. After finding his way to a nearby town and tending to his wounds he is recognized as a thief and promptly arrested by the local sheriff. Now he and the rest of the townsfolk must work together to save their kidnapped friends and family and drive off the aliens seeking to invade the planet and harvest our gold.
Daniel Craig stars as the they amnesiac outlaw Jake Lonergan. Jake is an old-school western tough guy trying to figure out what happened to a woman that he can only vaguely remember but knows that he loves and must rescue. Craig did not try to put any kind of modern twist on his character. Despite its science fiction elements, he played the character no different than you would find in any other western. His character was very matter-of-fact and steely eyed stare with a confident swagger in his walk. I dare say he channeled John Wayne in how he approached the role.
Harrison Ford plays the stereotypical evil rancher in the form of Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde who controls the entire town. When the aliens attack his son Percy (Paul Dano), who is drunk on his father’s power, is taken by the aliens and now Dolarhyde must team with Lonergan-who stole Dolarhyde’s gold shipment-to get him back. That is a very western genre plot element right there in my opinion.
Olivia Wilde plays Ella Swenson a mysterious woman who obviously knows more than she is letting on. Her character is straight out of a science-fiction film and serves to help bridge the western and science fiction genres. She talks like one of the townsfolk but what she says implies greater knowledge
Adam Beach, who is among my favorite actors, is horribly underutilized here. He plays Dolarhyde’s Native American right-hand man Nat Colorado. He has some good scenes with Harrison Ford, but they are too few.
The film has some pretty decent action scenes. The scene where the aliens abduct the townsfolk is great. It starts out quiet and peaceful, so you don’t know quite what to expect and then it just hits you. Bam! Explosions and energy blasts and flying machines and total chaos on the screen. The aliens are dropping what amount to the clawhooks you find in one of those games and snatching up people.
The battle to get everyone out of the spaceship is frenetic and contrary to what you see in many science-fiction films, the humans don’t really stand a chance. Those creatures are leaping around like jackrabbits and take down the people and the horses with ease. They are just getting slaughtered!
You have many of the tropes of the western genre here. You have gun battles. You have Native Americans. You have outlaws. You have the dusty and broken town. You even got a gold robbery.
And it easily mixes them with hulking creatures from outer space and cool spaceships. This film when you think about it is also an alien invasion movie. The aliens that the townsfolk have to contend with are a scouting party and more could come so the Native Americans and the outlaws and the townsfolk must band together and prevent them from establishing a beachhead.
For me this was a great mix of the classic western film with the alien invasion genre. The music was perfect, and the film was ideally cast and they told a terrific story. This is a great film that you really must see. I recommend this oddball mix.
2 thoughts on “Cowboys and Aliens”
I bought this on Blu-ray when it first came out, watched it once… you’ve got me thinking, maybe I should give it another shot. At the time I recall being underwhelmed, and the general critical reception at the time was negative really, but there’s a funny thing with movies, there’s so many even worse films coming out ones that in hindsight you can return to some and think, hey, it wasn’t that bad after all.
I think I’ve only ever rewatched one movie that I initially disliked that I came out of the rewatch liking. Not every movie is for everybody but if you are thinking you could like it on a second viewing then it MIGHT be worth a shot.