'Cowboys & Aliens'
(Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Paul Dano, et al / PG-13 / 118 mins)
Overview: Based on the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Cowboys & Aliens starts in 1800s Arizona, where the local cowboys, headed by gunslinger Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), and the indigenous Apache tribe have been feuding fiercely for quite a while. Their skirmish is interrupted, however, by the appearance of a spaceship, commanded by an alien creature that's bent on enslaving the human race!
Verdict: In truth, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is more Western than sci-fi, but the cowboys are like Indians. I mean, Native Americans. I mean, people going about their business when all of a sudden a horde of plundering imperialist invaders descends on them. Now the boss-man capitalist, the outlaw, and even the Native American chief have a common enemy!
It starts with a start: Muscular, blue-eyed Daniel Craig wakes up in the desert with a wound in his side, a weird metallic bracelet locked on his wrist, and no memory—although, like Jason Bourne, he can effortlessly waste baddies. He’s haunted … but by what? Favreau is clever enough to withhold the pertinent plot details. With a narrative this hackneyed, not knowing is more fun than finding out.
No spoilers, folks. But I will say it’s delightfully disorienting when the first shoot-out is about to erupt and then—what the heck … ? The camera makes like Spielberg’s, tracking in on characters gazing in wonder at a glow on the horizon that turns out to be mini ships that whiz in and snatch up shrieking earthlings. Overall, a dull, overblown and forgettable farrago, and with a premise chock full of many schlocky high concept thrills (and yet fails to deliver on them all), director Jon Favreau (sadly) allows the material's (at times) imaginative possibilities to flare up and fade away.