I wanted to like this movie so much more than I did, but it just wasn’t happening. Not to say I hated it, but it definitely could have used some work. That being said, let’s get to the premise of the whole tale.
Basically this fella wakes up with no memory of…. anything really. This movie probably set the record for the most times that the phrase “I don’t know” was used. One of the things he doesn’t remember is the metal bracelet on his wrist. This bracelet, as we know from the trailers, has the awesome ability to deal out seemingly endless ass whoopings to both aliens and humans alike.
He makes his way to the town of Absolution, a little place run by the Cattle Boss Woodrow Dolarhyde and his imbecile son Percy. Percy doesn’t really run anything, he’s just a downright turd who bullies everyone in the town because of who his father is. Our mystery man as it turns out is really Jake Lonergan, a wanted man for numerous crimes. After he is taken captive by the local law enforcement is when the real fun begins, because that’s when the aliens arrive. Their attack results in Dolarhyde’s dumb ass son, and many other townspeople being taken captive by the invaders, with Jake’s bracelet activating in proximity to their ships. He manages to shoot one down and the wounded pilot is their ticket to finding the captives that were taken.
The group to go after the alien and their people consists primarily of Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), Jake (Daniel Craig) and Ella (Olivia Wilde) who is a rather mysterious woman with a very keen interest in Jake’s past and missing memory. The tag-along company includes a Bartender named Doc who’s wife was taken, one of Dolarhyde’s cattle hands, and a preacher. Doc is played by an always excellent Sam Rockwell, and serves as a bit of comic relief as the man not accustomed to gun play or combat. Meacham the preacher is played by veteran of the screen Clancy Brown, who is a favorite actor of mine. Aside from Pet Semetary 2, Shawshank Redemption and the HBO series Carnivàle, this was the first extended role he’s had in a movie in a very long time, and it was good to see him in it.
I won’t explain anymore about the plot of the movie, so as to not give away any spoilers. The movie suffered from the many amnesia flashback scenes that Daniel Craig had. To me, the whole amnesia aspect only served the purpose of finding an excuse to put the wrist blaster onto Daniel Craig. If you look at it from a standpoint of trying to add depth to Daniel Craig’s character Jake it failed miserably. I like Daniel Craig and think he did a great job in the movie, but his character was just a shell that I really could have cared less about.
Even though Dolarhyde’s son was a complete nincompoop, I still felt more sympathetic towards him because of his past as a soldier and depth of care for his son’s well being. That being said, Harrison Ford did a great job in the role of Woodrow Dolarhyde playing his usual gruff and stern self, but this time with a twinge of crazy to it. As the movie went on I liked him more and more, especially towards the end when he starts to take charge. There was a particularly touching scene with him and a dying somebody. (You’ll know what I’m talking about when it happens in the movie.)
Hell, Even Ella’s background was far more interesting than Jake’s once you find out what it is, but like I said I won’t spoil it for you guys. Needless to say Olivia Wilde was a great actress once more, while also managing to be one of the hottest women on the planet.
Kudos to her!
The aliens themselves were kind of one dimensional, but I did enjoy them. They were definitely scary enough and kind of reminded me of the Independence Day invaders the way their set of little arms emerged from inside of their large outer body. Some people though (Doc Kronner) only thought of our little disgusting friend Kuato from Total Recall.
One thing that I did not enjoy about the aliens was their main reason for being on Earth. Most people would be fine with it I guess, but I just cringed when I found out. I was actually hoping that the aliens were going to have a translator of some sort so as to have some sort of communication with the humans, but they still worked fine as the more primal type of aliens who just like to kick primitive human ass.
I wish Jon Favreau all the luck in the world, but I’m starting to think he may have just got lucky with Iron Man. Iron Man 2 wasn’t that great of a movie, and Cowboys and Aliens was just a step above that. His movies – though shot beautifully – are suffering from something I can’t quite pinpoint. Perhaps the writers (Orci and Kurtzman) were still a bit rusty from writing the piece of shit we call a movie Revenge of the Fallen. So maybe it’s really their fault.
Either way I give the movie a 2 out of 5 bears. Great presentation and cast, but it fell flat on story and utilization of the material. It could have been so much more, because it took out all of the bad from the graphic novel aesthetically, but the story from the graphic novel would have better suited the movie.