Cowboys & Aliens
Dir. by John Favreau
Mixing sci-fi and western with cutting-edge special f/x should be a winning situation. So why does Jon Favreau’s Cowboys & Aliens
fall so flat?
The story is simple for both genres: Lone criminal Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) was abducted by aliens but somehow escaped. He has full amnesia, though, and can’t remember any details about that much less about himself. The aliens are abducting large numbers of local townsfolk, including son of the local mean rich guy Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Those remaining after an alien attack then posse up to get their people back. Joined by the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) the group sets off, finds out things about themselves and how to bridge gaps with other less savory (to them) groups of people, and everybody happily bands together in order to save the day and defeat the aliens.
The story and characters are so under-developed, though, it’s tough to care much for anyone beyond the leads here. Ford is actually pretty good as the hardened war veteran and Craig is is usual solid self. But apart from another good wasted performance from Sam Rockwell as the “nervous Pervis” of the group, no drama is genuine. Because Spielberg is involved there’s of course a kid that’s involved who’s always in peril but never in danger. It’s that annoying mode of crass exploitation, of arrogance that the audience has seen this before and, therefore, will immediately buy into their plight, that’s so discouraging here. Everyone just seems to be going through the motions without any passion or reasoning.
The aliens are cool, though, so, um, there’s that.