Yet another underwhelming summer brouhaha that fails to up the ante.
Despite boasting one of the year's best taglines – 'First Contact. Last Stand' is a rare stroke of marketing genius – Cowboys & Aliens is yet another underwhelming summer brouhaha that fails to up the ante.
With the mash-up premise derived from the 2006 Platinum Studios graphic novel of the same name, director Jon Favreau applies the blockbuster finish in typically brawny fashion. Sadly, however, the perma-goateed Iron Man steed has also chosen the low road by extracting the most banal and well-worn components from both parent genres, resulting in an intergalactic gunslinger that could have played out like Blade Runner meets The Searchers but ended up Wild Wild West with bugs.
We open in Absolution, a single-track Arizona fleapit that's bossed by a surly cattle rancher-cum-colonel named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). With the townsfolk under his thumb, Dolarhyde's snot-nosed son (Paul Dano) is free to pistol-whip and pillage at his leisure. That is, until a stranger with a murky past moseys on into view.
He's Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), an curiously metrosexual sunuvabitch with a chip on his shoulder and a mysterious brace locked tight around his wrist. After trouble flares in the local saloon, Lonergan and Dolarhyde go mano y mano before a exoteric glitch flips the film's equilibrium on its Stetson.
After the dust from this exhilarating first encounter settles our quarrelling protagonists puts their difference aside, wrangle up a posse and set out across the vast Midwest to track down the outer space intruders, who've abducted half the town. This middle-third is paced well, but we're always more interested in the climactic Mexican stand off than any half-baked character toning that precedes it.
So what does Cowboys & Aliens tell us that we didn't already know? Ultimately, not a lot.
Ford should have hung up his acting spurs years ago. Favreau is a safe pair of hands with a multi-million dollar budget, but his directing legacy still doesn't extend much further than Will Ferrell dicking around in yellow pantyhose. Craig is a bona fide action star who shouldn't be reduced to spitting out lines like "Demons took your gold" in a husky Southern drawl. And Hollywood's Midas touch is still stuck in reverse.
Dances With Wookies.