With a name like Cowboys & Aliens you don’t go in expecting much. This is Jon Favreau’s latest film, which is probably the reason I gave it a chance. Jon “gets” comic book movies. Though to be honest, given the quality of comic book movies lately that’s no longer as remarkable as it used to be.
Anyway, Cowboys & Aliens is meant to be a cross genre action adventure, and bizzare as it sounds, it works. The Cowboy element of the movie is authentic (by classic cowboy movie standards) and the Alien element is fun (though you shouldn’t think about it too hard)
I would rate this movie strictly average, for a number of reasons – most of them revolving around plot – if it weren’t for great performances from Craig Daniels and especially Harrison Ford. He plays a curmudgeony haunted and angry Colonel so well you’d think the performance belongs in another movie. Probably his best performance in years, really.
What makes it work is that the movie stays a proper cowboy movie even when the aliens are introduced, and doesn’t try to change what it is. It handles the standard conventions well and sometimes in ways I haven’t seen before. You got cowboys, Indians, bandits, conflicts and alliances. The human elements are more interesting than the aliens which, as I mentioned, has problems if you think about it too hard.
Bottom line, an enjoyable but forgettable movie with performances of a higher caliber than was needed.