Daniel Craig wakes up in a small American cowboy town with a strange, mechanical bracelet around his wrist and no memory of who he is. It turns out that he is a wanted criminal, who had stolen bullion from Harrison Ford, the richest man in town. But before Ford can extract revenge, mysterious aliens attack the town. Craig’s bracelet is the only thing that can protect the humans. What happens next? Find out more in the review of Cowboys & Aliens.
Business rating: 1.5/5 stars
Star cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde.
What’s Good: Daniel Craig’s performance; the cinematography.
What’s Bad: The hackneyed and boring script; the lack of any emotional connect with the audience; the indigestible premise of the film.
Verdict: Cowboys & Aliens is a disappointing fare. Even Daniel Craig’s name will not be able to do much for the film at the Indian box-office.
Loo break: Several.
Watch or Not?: Watch only if you want to know what a film with cowboys and aliens put together can have.
Imagine Entertainment, K/O Paper Products, Fairview Entertainment and Platinum Studios’ Cowboys & Aliens is a mix of the American Western and science-fiction genres.
In 1875, a person (Daniel Craig) with no memory of his past wakes up in the middle of New Mexico desert, with a strange metal bracelet around his wrist. As he is nursing an injury, he finds his way to the nearest town, a dirt-heap called Absolution, where he gets embroiled in a fight with the local rich man’s son, Percy (Paul Dano). He is soon arrested as the local sheriff discovers that although he has lost his memory, he is a wanted criminal by the name of Jake Lonegran. There is a mysterious girl, Ella (Olivia Wilde), who helps the local sheriff capture Jake. Percy is also arrested by the sheriff. Soon, Percy’s father, Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), arrives with his men, ready to take on the sheriff (for arresting his son) and Jake, whom he wants to kill for having stolen his (Dolarhyde’s) bullion a few days earlier. However, their confrontation is nipped in the bud as strange alien crafts arrive and start bombing the town, and snatch several people to take them away to an undisclosed location. But not before Jake’s metal bracelet comes to life and he shoots down an alien aircraft. The alien from the aircraft manages to escape.
Next morning, when Dolarhyde and other townspeople leave in search of the alien and their loved ones, Jake goes on his own path. Ella, who follows Jake, pleads with him to remember his past so that he can reveal the location of the aliens. Jake cannot remember anything and he asks Ella not to follow him.
But slowly, as Jake later joins Dolarhyde and team, his memory starts to return in flashes. It finally is restored when native Indians, who are also threatened by the alien attack, nurse Jake’s mental wounds. He reveals the location of the alien spacecraft. Ella, who also turns out to be a non-human form, tells Jake and Dolarhyde that they must defeat the aliens or they (aliens) would kill all humans. Now Jake and his men, Dolarhyde and his men and the native Indians must all come together and attack the fortified alien spacecraft and the dangerous aliens. Are they able to win the battle?
Cowboys & Aliens Review – Script Analysis
The story of Cowboys & Aliens, based on Platinum Studios’ eponymous comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, has a germ of an idea that might appeal to a few viewers. However, the manner in which the story (by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk) has been written makes the film an extremely boring and unentertaining fare. The screenplay (by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby) starts off well with the mystery surrounding the real identity of Jake. But the audience is given no reason to sympathise with Jake, as he turns out to be a murderer and a wanted criminal. Moreover, the fact that Jake had lost his wife, whom he dearly loved, and also his memory because of the aliens, is revealed so late in the movie that it makes no difference to the viewer.
Colonel Dolarhyde’s character, of a war-rugged man who rules his town with an iron fist, but has a soft corner for a native Indian servant (Adam Beach), is clichéd. Moreover, scenes of Dolarhyde’s confrontation with the native Indian chief do not work at all and they seem fabricated.
In spite of the many fast-paced action sequences, which are fairly well-executed, the narrative moves at a very slow pace. The part where the cowboys (humans) look for the missing alien is extremely long-drawn. The long interactions between the cowboys, in their peculiar accent, are too stretched and do not add any entertainment value. Till the last few reels of the film, the viewer is provided with no clues about what the aliens are doing, who they really are, etc. And when the reason for their attack on earth is revealed in the end, it only amuses the audience, rather than horrifying or exciting them. The alien creatures themselves are very strange-looking and also of an unknown provenance, another detail that is inexplicably left out.
The presence of an alluring and mysterious female character, Ella, with whom Jake only starts to develop a bonding, does not add any value as Ella turns out to be a non-human. Ella’s ultimate sacrifice in the climax also makes no difference to the audience as it is too bored to care for anything.
The basic premise (putting aliens and cowboys together), which could have been an asset if dealt with well, ends up being the film’s millstone. All in all, in spite of half a dozen writers flexing their mental muscles, the script turns out to be a damp squib.
Cowboys & Aliens Review – Star Performances
Daniel Craig (as Jake Lonegran) does well as the stoic and poker-faced protagonist. His performance is the only redeeming feature in the whole film. Harrison Ford (Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde) has been relegated to the second lead character and even that is rather under-developed. But Ford does an okay job of what he has been given. Olivia Wilde (as Ella) looks beautiful but has little else to do. Sam Rockwell (as Doc), Adam Beach (as native Indian), Paul Dano (as Dolarhyde’s son, Percy) and Noah Ringer (as kid) provide fair support.
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