Cowboys and Aliens- 10 Years Later

When a movie starring the woman from Tron Legacy and the O.C., the man who flew the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, and the man who likes his drinks shaken, not stirred, I don’t need much convincing this movie is something I need to see. Not to mention the title alone seems so absurd. Then again, the director happens to be the same guy who helped bring to life Zathura, Iron Man, and my all-time Christmas movie, Elf. When I started writing this post, I almost forget that Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and legendary producer Brian Grazer (Friday Night Lights) were also attached. All of these elements amount to a film that should’ve been a box office gold guarantee. It wasn’t, but Cowboys and Aliens was still an enjoyable film.

Daniel Craig stars in this 2011 sci-fi western as Jake Lonergan, a wanted outlaw who wakes in the middle of nowhere having no memory of what happened. But he seems to remember how to defend himself. Classic “Bond.” He ends up in a town on the fringe of turmoil, and townsfolk are naturally suspicious of him. I should add he has a mysterious gauntlet attached to his wrist. Things turn sinister when aliens attack the town and kidnap several of the citizens. Lonergan joins the town in tracking down the aliens to rescue the lost. Craig crafts a wonderful character who seems to live up to the outlaw name. We learn of his past and how it changed the course of his life, going from an outlaw on the run to a man risking his life to help others.

Harrison Ford is no scoundrel in this film. OK, maybe just a little. He plays cattleman Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde, a foolhardy father who just can’t seem to get his life together. He comes to a crossroads when his son is kidnapped and wrestles with what is truly important in his life by watching Lonergan, Swenson, and a man he admires and wishes was his son, Nat Colorado, played by Adam Beach. It’s no surprise Ford can expertly craft any role into cinematic gold. In this film, I enjoyed watching Ford play a man whose heart is hardened and see it change into a man opening himself up to something new and better when it comes to being a father.

Olivia Wilde radiates the screen as the elegant, mysterious and fierce Ella Swenson. She is a badass and seems to be the most level-headed in the tumultuous town of Absolution. I won’t say much as not to spoil the film, but she makes quite the impression and plays a vital role in both the plot and in changing the course of Lonergan’s life.

I didn’t grow up watching westerns. I only knew of Firefly, Rango, Gunfight at the OK Corral, and the 2016 remake of The Magnificent Seven. There is a sense of bravado, action, heart-pounding suspense, and uncertainty of each character’s survival. I enjoyed the title, and I applaud Favreau and his DREAM TEAM behind the camera for bringing to life the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg.

I like how Absolution is in a state of turmoil, and yet this tragic occurrence forces the citizens to come together, save their own people, and bring their town into a new era of unity and hope. Swenson, Dolarhyde, and Lonergan are great examples of characters overcoming strife and trauma in their life and becoming something new while not discounting the events that shaped them into who they are currently. Even Sam Rockwell shines as a man who finds his courage trying to save his wife after living his life in fear. The whole film is a tale of redemption, which I admire a lot, making Cowboys and Aliens so memorable. I would like to know why this film didn’t shine at the box office, but I will happily offer Cowboys and Aliens as a must-see.

Suppose the title alone doesn’t convince you. Imagine if James Bond and Han Solo teamed up to fight aliens. Do I have your attention?

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