Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer
Director: Jon Favreau
As many as six writers are credited with bringing 'Cowboys & Aliens' to the screen. It's true what they say about too many cooks. This Western-meets-sci-fi khichdi is a somber and humourless affair with none of the popcorn fun that you expect from a film with a goofy title like this.
Set in the 1870s, the film stars Daniel Craig as a mysterious stranger with no memory of his identity, who turns up in a shabby desert town sporting an intricate metallic bracelet and a permanent scowl. Within minutes he has a messy run-in with the cowardly son of local cattle baron Woodrow Dolarhyde (played by Harrison Ford), and also gets into a scrap with the sheriff and his deputies who've identified him as wanted outlaw Jake Lonergan.
But just as the stage is set for a delicious showdown between Indiana Jones and James Bond, a big spaceship cruises above the town, unleashing alien fighter planes that start snatching people right off the streets. Before he knows it, Jake's wristband comes to life, and he figures out how to use it as a weapon to fight back the alien attacks. To rescue his son and some townsfolk that have been captured by those aliens, Dolarhyde leads Jake and a group of locals in pursuit of the extra-terrestrials.
That's a cue for many a boring action scenes between the cowboys and the aliens, although the motive of those creepy CGI creatures is never clear until the end. Also rather cryptic is the identity of that fearless beauty (played by Olivia Wilde) who is determined to follow Jake around. Aside from the first alien attack sequence on the town, the rest of the action in this film feels fairly standard, including the tedious final act. Both Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford appear to be taking this film more seriously than they're meant to, but how much can you blame them when they're saddled with such trite material? Surprisingly, director Jon Favreau who brought all that teasing fun to the first 'Iron Man' movie leaves out that key ingredient this time round - the sense of being in on the joke. As a result, what you get is a plodding bore of a film that's neither a satisfying Western, nor an engaging sci-fi adventure.
I'm going with two out of five for 'Cowboys & Aliens'. It starts off promisingly, but soon slips into a quicksand of mediocrity.
Rating: 2 / 5
Kunal Jain, Jaipur
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