1873, Arizona Territory: A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution where the people don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. Suddenly Absolution is attacked by marauders from the sky. Now, the stra...more
1873, Arizona Territory: A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution where the people don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde. Suddenly Absolution is attacked by marauders from the sky. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. This gunslinger realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. less
“An intriguing first half followed by an extremely uninspiring climax. Saved by its compelling background score and Harrison Ford's outstanding performance cowboy-alien saga is a one-time watch.”
Han Solo & James Bond ride into battle together, not the start of a joke but rather the biggest attraction of 'Cowboys & Aliens'. This is a movie built around more than a silly little premise with marquee stars with impressive cinematic character histories to carry it off on their shoulders. So even if Daniel Craig is called Jake Lonergan here, all most would be thinking of is James Bond & Harrison Ford might be Col. Dolarhyde but Han Solo & Indy is all that will remain.
Sometime in the Wild West, a man (Daniel Craig) wakes up with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. An injury to the gut and a strange metal bracelet only further add to the confusion. He rides into a nearby town called Absolution which itself lives under the iron fist of Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) & his spoilt-brat of a son, Percy (Paul Dano). Soon enough it is learnt that the mysterious man is Jake Lonergan, a wanted man who has a history with Col. Dolrahyde. Just when things are on the verge of getting ugly, spaceships drop from the skies and lay the town waste while kidnapping the townsfolk. It is around this time that the contraption on Jake's hand comes alive and results in the sole causality for the extraterrestrial invaders. The town rallies together and sets out in search of their loved ones while forming an uneasy alliance between Jake & Dolarhyde. They are also joined by another mysterious figure in the form of Ella (Olivia Wilde) who might know more than she's letting on. So Jake has to figure out all that he's forgotten and save the townsfolk while trying to figure out who the aliens are and what are they doing here.
The movie based on a graphic novel stays true to its pulp origins and combines two very different genres almost effortlessly. The first half keeps you hooked on to the mystery of the matter at hand but the moment things start becoming clearer, the story begins to lumber around like a an injured brontosaurus concluding in one of the most uninspired climaxes. Infact the entire conclusion reminded me more than a little of 'Avatar'.
What I really liked in the movie were the various references scattered throughout to westerns of years gone by. Like Jake riding a horse along a canyon to jump onto a flying spacecraft which might seem absurd but didn't they do the same thing with trains? Like this there are plenty of other nods to other western clichs which only adds to the pulpy feel of the film. The background score by Harry-Gregson Williams too was something I quite enjoyed in terms of adding just that little modern tinge to a classical western score.
Unfortunately none of the characters are worth caring about and even though each one faces personal loss of some kind or the other and finds redemption it all felt obligatory more than inspiring.
Daniel Craig takes cues from Clint Eastwood's 'Man with No Name' and plays it straight, quiet and strong. Harrison Ford is great as grumpy, grizzled veteran who might hold a softer emotional core than he shows. Olivia Wilde looks astoundingly good and has a character with enough twists of her own but is kind of bland. Sam Rockwell is wasted but gets a few nice lines.
'Cowboys & Aliens' has a very interesting setup which is ruined by a lacklustre end that will literally have you rolling your eyes in disbelief & boredom. Watch it for Harrison Ford & the various nods to the westerns of the bygone era.