“Cowboys & Aliens” is a movie about cowboys and aliens, and anyone walking in unaware will be pleased to find there are plenty of both. Sadly, there’s also not much of anything else.
Daniel Craig stars as Jake Lonergan, an amnesiac drifter who awakes in the middle of the desert with a strange alien weapon attached to his arm. As this is partially a Western, he finds himself in a dusty frontier town in need of protection, first from the forces of greedy cattle magnate Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and then from a mysterious fleet of alien spacecraft that snatches townsfolk out of the sky. Why do they do this? Well, one, because it’s summer, but also because they want our gold.
The film plays like all concerned turned on autopilot once they had the title locked in. Jon Favreau assembled an all-star cast, but for much of the first half the script can’t figure out what to do with them, working under the impression that adding aliens to stock Western situations would be enough.
The cowboys and the aliens do eventually fight each other, in a rousing action set-piece that gives plenty of fine little character touches to the former and a delightfully Cronenbergian design to the latter.
True to its word, the movie gives you what it says it will, but it’s entirely uninterested in doing anything more.