In an entirely original move, director Jon Favreau brings outer space and the wild west together in a highly anticipated sci-action-adventure. What results is a confusing final product that spans all genres.
The first half of the movie promises unique storytelling and great characters. We start out in 1873 with a nameless cowboy (Daniel Craig) trying to remember who he is after an unknown traumatic event.
He stumbles into a small Western town, full of saloons and big 'ole cowboy boots. The calm before the storm doesn't last long when Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) saunters into town on his horse looking for his delinquent son.
And that's when it all starts to go wrong. The first batch of alien ships descends over the small town and creates utter chaos for its inhabitants. Stealing many of their loved ones, the surviving cowboys decide they had better stop these aliens if they ever want to see their people again.
The nameless cowboy, who we now know is Jake, and Dolarhyde put aside their differences to work together, accepting the first female (Olivia Wilde) on their mission - because cowboys don't let girls ride horses, right? They continue on their wayward journey to destroy the aliens and take back the wild west.
Bringing two very different genres is always an experiment of sorts, and it's interesting to see where that experiment will go. Unfortunately this one proves to be in the planning stages at best.
Everything from a rebirth in a fire pit, to the ancient Indian cure for amnesia, to the predictable slimy aliens, screams unoriginal. It could have been set in any era and with any cast of characters - the only difference between this and so many other sci-fi alien revenge films, is that it happens to be cowboys. It does have it all - the token woman... kid... dog. There's just nothing done with them.
Daniel Craig plays the steel blue-eyed cowboy with a manly gusto and proves he is definitely an action star (but we all already knew that from James Bond, so even that's unoriginal) and Harrison Ford is the grumpy old man who doesn't want to listen to anyone else (again, sounding very familiar). The two create a kind of love-hate chemistry that's easy to watch, but it can only bring us so far into our experiment.
But unlike other sci-fi alien adventures, like say Super 8 from a couple months ago, nothing about this one pops. There's no comedy to relieve the tension, no cute smart-alecky kids, and absolutely no exciting climax to enjoy.
With great potential, Cowboys and Aliens falls short of actually reaching the mark of great original storytelling.