Suspend your disbelief and catch “Cowboys & Aliens.” One need not be a devout fan of either genre to be entertained by this witty sci-fi Western. And it doesn’t hurt one bit that Director Jon Favreau nabbed the dreamy Daniel Craig (aka Agent 007) in the lead role.
Craig plays Jake Lonergan who has a Jason Bourne thing going for him when he wakes up in the desert with amnesia. There’s also a strange metal cuff on his wrist. When he wanders into the town of Absolution, Jake’s identity is revealed to him on a wanted poster. Like Bourne, he discovers he has an incredible ability to kick butt.
The town bully (Paul Dano) gets a dose of Jake’s pugilistic prowess, which immensely ires Daddy (Harrison Ford). All this ado is put on hold when aliens attack Absolution and abscond with some of the townsfolk. Inadvertently, Jake uses the wrist device to annihilate one of the spacecrafts. An unlikely alliance between desperados, cowboys and Indians is forged to combat the aliens, with Jake leading the posse.
Throw in the beautiful gal (Olivia Wilde), a kid (Noah Ringer) and a dog, and you’ve got your classic Western. Wherein lies the rub is that the good guys are a lot of bad guys doing what they do best. When we come to find out that the aliens are just a bunch of greedy, gold-grubbing, materialistic thugs, it’s almost a reflection upon human nature.
Favreau (“Iron Man”) has constructed a Western, aliens aside, on a par with “3:10 to Yuma” (2007). It’s spectacularly shot and sports a soaring adrenaline-pumping score. The casting could not have been any better. Ford gives his best multi-layered performance since “What Lies Beneath.” But it’s cucumber-cool Craig who steals the show. He looks just as hot in dusty chaps as he does in an Armani tux. And he can rifle-toss with the best of them.
In the end, as Jake rides off into the khaki-colored New Mexico sky, there’s a “Shane” moment. He embodies the alluring appeal of the redemptive bad guy. You wish he’d stay.