Jon Favreau, mostly known for being one of the producers behind the Iron Man franchise, took the task of directing this film back in 2011. While Cowboys and Aliens sounds like a mix as good as ice cream and beer, this is not what the film is.
You can see that Steven Spielberg got his hands dirty on this one as the first thing you get to think about when the first alien show up, was E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. And it is a good familiar feeling that makes everything look more promising than the premise of the film.
The movie starts with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) waking up in the middle of nowhere with a wound that he can’t remember getting, much like anything else. With an out-of-this-world bracelet (for that time and place) that he cannot get off, he is soon found by a group of not very friendly individuals that he swiftly gets rid of by showing some very good fighting skills. He then heads to a near town where he seeks to fix himself up, luckily being discovered by a priest that helps him out.
Jake heads to the town bar, meeting Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), the son of a very powerful and ruthless local on the way. Jake humiliates him in a dispute, but the altercation is interrupted by Sheriff John Taggart, who arrests Percy for shooting the Deputy (Brian Duffy). In the bar, Jake meets Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), but before she can help him remember who he is, the Sheriff comes in to arrest Jake, as he is a wanted man.
With Jake and Percy chained together and on their way to the County Marshall, the Sheriff is met by a party of men led by Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), the boy’s father who is demanding that he gets both men into his custody. Then, a light is shown in the distance, and as it approaches everyone realises that they are demons (aliens) and that they do not mean well. A fight breaks loose and as people are getting killed and kidnapped by the demons, Jake realises that his bracelet is a weapon. This is when he manages to take one of the flying alien ships down and make the others scatter.
Next morning, a group of whoever is left alive gets together to track and find the demons, and release all of the people that got kidnapped. On the way, they are attacked by the former gang of Jake Lonergan and the demons as well. Ella gets seriously injured and most of the others flea, die or get kidnapped. As Jake tries to carry Ella back, they reunite with the group, only to be ambushed by a group of Native Americans. Assuming that Ella is dead, the natives throw her into the fire, only for her to come back to life unharmed, revealing the fact that she is an alien as well, from another planet that the demons destroyed previously.
As she unveils the story to everyone, they all join forces, including Jake’s old gang, in an attempt to destroy the demons and rescue the people that they have kidnapped. As everyone distracts them by drawing them out of their base, Jake and Ella sneak inside the mothership rescuing everyone who was left alive. But as the ship takes flight, Ella sacrifices herself in order to destroy any chance of them coming back to earth.
That sounds like a mouthful, but it is definitely a movie you have to watch, if not for the plot, then at least for the cast and for how good it looks, despite the weird mix between old and new. On the other hand, we also recommend you go one step further, onto the horror section, and watch It Follows by director David Robert Mitchell, and make a movie night marathon out of one of your weekends.