Cowboys and Aliens, Daniel Craig

<Review by: Anil Sadarangani>

Directed by Jon Favreau. Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer.

Honestly, I enjoyed the film and I’ll see it again. Now, it might be that the views of the one are as crucial as the views of the many but in this case, I warn you! I’m a sucker for Sci-Fi, alien flicks! I even loved the heavily panned and criticised Bollywood Sci-Fi flick, the Priyanka Chopra-Harman Baweja starrer Love Story 2050 – mainly for the crazy Priyanka Chopra, I think!

This does not mean I’ll let my personal feelings have a bearing on my professional obligations! I promise to be fair in this review of the Steven Spielberg produced film Cowboys & Aliens. It’s a Western with a Sci-Fi soul. If you’re not into period films or Westerns (in recent times – think True Grit), action thrillers and indeed Sci-Fi, there’s a possibility you might not like this latest offering from director Jon Favreau (Iron Man). Cowboys & Aliens is unlike any other film of the close encounter of the third kinds you might have ever seen. Then again, it is!

Based on the comic book series of the same name by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, the story is set in 1873 Arizona. It’s the wild Wild West. Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) is a wanted outlaw who stole rich cattle trader Woodrow Dolarhyde’s (Harrison Ford) gold. One day (the beginning of the film) he awakens in the middle of nowhere, his memory erased, his wrist shackled with a metallic bracelet. When he enters the town Absolution (what’s in a name, huh?), enemies burst out of the woodworks, baying for his blood. Then the barbarian aliens arrive and abduct the cowboys and cowgirls. Craig is forced to join forces with his enemies to defeat the intergalactic thugs. Their battle, both within and without, makes for the rest of the film.

Technically sound, good cinematography (with huge dollops of CGI – yawn), convincing characters, good acting, substantial infusion of sexiness (sorry, no nude scenes! Only one blink-and-miss cold kiss scene between Craig and sultry co-star Olivia Wilde) and plenty of blood, gore and violence, Cowboys & Aliens leaves one with mixed feelings (yes, even for a hardcore Sci-Fi fan). The story stalls and starts, grinding to a sapping halt, saved in the nick of time by the arrival of the aliens. Seriously, who the hell cares if these cowboys duel each other into the heart of the Alamo, blindfolded with one hand tied behind their backs?

Fortunately for Indian audiences, the filmmaker and writers seem to have realised not too many people would want to sit for almost two hours and watch a bunch of ugly and filthy men with barely coherent accents massacring each other just for the heck of it! So, the Western references are toned down. Ford’s character spouts 21st century wisdom, which if it were really a Western from the old days, he wouldn’t have.

Some critics believe it’s highly ‘derivative’ from the old westerns and even Steven Spielberg’s numerous sci-fi flicks. Perhaps they don’t know the filmmakers make no bones about having taken references from all these films! And who cares, really? Go see the film – it’s good entertainment.

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