The Wild West. The 1900s. Cowboys. Frontier town. Aliens. Wait a minute!! Aliens? What’s going on? Does Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) actually believe that we will swallow the idea of aliens invading Arizona in the late 1800s? C’mon! These are all things that went through my head during the months I was subjected to being force fed the trailer for the Cowboys & Aliens before the film I’d actually paid to see. There was no way in my mind that this could work. Boy, was I ever wrong. Note to self: don’t judge a film by its title.
Enlisting leading men of two different generations so that women of different ages will swoon – Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford – check. Cast some female eye candy – Olivia Wilde – check. Add some cool CGI special effects – check. Make sure that as it is a summer release that it has the requisite action scenes – check. Favreau has hit all the marks in his effort to make the perfect summer flick. All he had to do was make the audience accept his film’s concept of aliens invading an Arizona town in the 19th century and a bunch of cowboys having to defend Earth from them with this pistols, horses and shotguns. Surprisingly – check.
In the year 1873 in Arizona, which is part of the Wild West, there was still settlement and frontier mentality going on. Men were cowboys and women were crinoline wearing babes. No surprises. That is until Jake Lonergan (played by Daniel Craig) wanders into town. Things are never really the same afterwards.
Lonergan, a man with no memory of his past, stumbles into the town of Absolution and causes problems from the moment he arrives. The only hint that Lonergan has of his past is a contraption shackled to his wrist. Absolution and its residents is not a friendly place. That is not unless the gruff Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (played by Harrison Ford) says so. Absolution is a desert town governed by fear.
Beyond the comprehension of Lonergan, Dolarhyde and all the residents of Absolution they are attacked by beings descending upon them from the sky. Travelling at speeds they cannot even conceive of and accompanied by lights that blind, the residents seem helpless to against the aliens. That is until they accept the fact that the stranger with the even stranger bracelet might be their only hope.
Lonergan, who is slowly remembering who he is and where he is from, and a mysterious female traveller, Ella (played by Olivia Wilde), get together a posse to try to fight off the invading alien force.
It is kind of an odd summer action film with the whole space/science fiction concept it has going but somehow director Favreau gets it to work. As long as you are willing to go into it like a child. I mean with the imagination of a child and don’t reject the whole silliness of it. Let your imagination go wild and you will agree that the mixing of an alien flick with a Western is a pretty cool concept.
Actors all do a fine job. Daniel Craig is the lead but strangely enough (or not considering his character) does not speak all that much. Harrison Ford is his usual grumpy self and Olivia Wilde is gorgeous.
All that being said, the concept of aliens invading a town in the Wild West might still be a tough one for people to swallow. If you can get beyond it though this is a fun summer film.
- Second Screen
- Conversations with Jon Favreau
- Igniting the Sky: The Making of Cowboys & Aliens
- Feature Commentary with Director Jon Favreau
- U-Control Picture in Picture