Before completely digressing, “Cowboys & Aliens” is a lot of fun. I enjoyed it, and you got to love the title. What is astounding about “Cowboys & Aliens” is its pedigree. Steven Spielberg is the Executive Producer. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are the Producers for their Imagine Entertainment. Jon Favreau (of “Iron Man”) is the Director. The screenwriters of “Transformers” and “Star Trek”, Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, along with Mark Fergas and Hawk Ostby wrote the screenplay based on the comic book. Daniel Craig (“James Bond”) and Harrison Ford (“Indiana Jones”) are the stars. Stunning Olivia Wilde, who was the best thing about “Tron: Legacy” costars. The movie is genetically engineered as the summer blockbuster—you can tell all involved had a blast making this movie. Surprisingly, “Cowboys & Aliens” barely edged out “The Smurfs” in the weekend box office. Go figure.
Anyway, veering back on course, “Cowboys & Aliens” is a great summer movie. It plays like your traditional western with vermin extraterrestrials at bay. Daniel Craig is awesome, and looks amazingly shredded. He fights with explosive martial arts style—not typically Western, and is deadly with guns as well. He wakes in the desert bearing a futuristic metallic bracelet on his forearm capable of dispatching alien spaceships at will, and vicious wound in his side. Craig is convincing as outlaw cowboy, without a trace of British accent. He even has one over Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”: He doesn’t remember his own. You don’t mess with him either, as three scoundrels discover in the opening scene.
Harrison Ford is grizzled patriarch rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde. At first glance Ford seems imprisoned in caricature. However, Ford embodies character in Dolarhyde. Dolarhyde’s son Percy (clumsily arrogant Paul Dano) is aimless and constantly running afoul of the law. Percy mistakenly crosses Craig. Inevitably Woodrow and Craig’s amnesiac shall intersect paths.
Disoriented Craig soon encounters more trouble in town. Ella (Wilde) gazes with haunting familiarity into Craig’s steel blues with her own. Wilde is the beauty with mesmerizing eyes, eliciting both transparency and mystery. She is the perfect match for Craig’s brooding charisma and physicality. During a fight Ella blindsides Craig; thus, saving the lives of the town’s deputies. He lands in a jail cell, next to Percy. Apparently, Craig is Jake Lonergan, who is wanted for robbery and murder. Lonergran is accused of murdering his lover Alice (beguiling Abigail Spencer). Jake’s fragmented flashback reveals otherwise. Flying alien drones swoop down upon the town in dramatic display, tethering fearful citizens off into the clear night sky. Jake’s bracelet unleashes a burst of energy that destroys one of the ships. Dolarhyde has questions, but knows that Jake holds the key to getting his son Percy back.