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Mr. Milo: COWBOYS & ALIENS Should Skip Town

Obviously there’s no way a bunch of cowboys and Indians armed with black powder 6 shooters and arrows are going to take on an advanced alien civilization. Even with all of our modern technology it’s unlikely we would stand a chance. So, in a way this movie isn’t any less probable than Independance Day, Battle Los Angeles, War of the Worlds, or any other alien invasion movie. There isn’t anything wrong with the premise of this movie. Movies have a right to be fun. The problems here are in the execution.

Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) awakes in the desert with a mysterious metal device clamped to his wrist and no memory of who he is or how he got there. Jake is intended to be the classic cowboy loner. We know this because he has the word ‘loner’ in his name. He defeats 3 armed men with his bare hands and then rides into town where he finds Percy (Paul Dano), the spoiled son of oppressive cattle baron Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), shooting up the place. Jake kicks him in the groin, then strolls off to drink some whiskey at the saloon where he whips a half dozen more armed men without firing a shot and is then knocked out by his ex-girlfriend (Olivia Wilde).

The early parts of the movie setup like a story of a stranger who rides into town to save the helpless towns folk from an oppressive cattle baron. Then the aliens show up, and none of that matters. We have our first encounter with the aliens when they bomb a heard of cattle. Why would aliens bomb a heard of cattle? Don’t know.

The action in the latter half of the movie is motivated by the need to rescue Percy, whom we don’t care for, and the bartender’s wife, who has no purpose in this story other than to need rescue. The bartender (Sam Rockwell) has no purpose in this story other than to have a wife who needs to be rescued. The aliens continue to blow things up for little or no reason. There’s a scene where Craig chases down an alien space craft on horse back. The aliens have no sense of tactics. Despite their air superiority and firepower they opt to take on the cowboys hand to hand. After 7 or 8 aliens get blown up trying to attack through a cramped corridor you’d think one of them might say, “Hey fellas, the frontal assault isn’t working. Maybe we should try a flanking move.”

Daniel Craig doesn’t talk a lot in this movie. That not what he’s here for. His job is to look tough and kick ass. When he does talk his American accent seemed a little off to me, but I realized foreign accents can be tricky. More disturbingly I don’t buy Harrison Ford’s American accent. He talks with an artificial graveliness to make his character sound hard, but it just comes off like lazy acting. There’s a point in the story where we are supposed to shift from disliking Ford’s character to identifying with him but no real reason for this is given.

Jon Favreau directs. His Iron Man movies weren’t bad, but this movie doesn’t have any heart in it. No one in this movie is horrible. It’s full of talented people who seem to be going through the motions until they can do a project they really care about. I recommend skipping this movie and catching them in those next projects.

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