Jake (Craig) wakes up in the desert with no memory of who he is or why he has a strange metal bracelet clamped onto his arm. He staggers into a dusty town, where the sheriff (Carradine) helps him until he clashes with local bully Percy (Dano), the son of power-mad landowner Dolarhyde (Ford), who has a history with Jake. But when strange airborne "demons" attack the town, Jake discovers that his bracelet is a weapon that can fight them. So Dolarhyde drafts him into a posse to hunt them down.
Like most Westerns, the posse includes the local doctor (Rockwell) and a guy (Beach) who's more of a son to Dolarhyde than the bratty Percy. On the other hand, the sheriff's young son (Ringer) and an improbably hot barmaid (Wilde) tag along as well, suspending logic but livening things up. Fortunately, Craig is rock-solid in the lead role, combining gritty physicality and brooding emotion to play the Man With No Name who slowly discovers who he is. And Ford is clearly having a ball in crotchety Han Solo mode.
So it's strange that the aliens are so barely relevant to what's otherwise a standard searching-for-kidnapped-relatives storyline. As they ride through gorgeous ravines, our heroes confront violent bandits and marauding native Americans before teaming up with them for the final onslaught. There are cleverly dusty effects in the action-packed final act, but the main focus is actually on how old enemies must unite to fend off outsiders.
By contrast, the extraterrestrials are faceless, one-note baddies merely pillaging earth's resources. This is far too simplistic to make the otherwise solidly executed Wild West adventure develop into something interesting. But director Favreau knows how to work charm and humour into his films, so even if the action scenes are never truly exhilarating, there's enough going on here to keep us hooked.
Run time: 119 mins
In Theaters: Friday 29th July 2011
Box Office USA: $100.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $171.2M
Distributed by: Universal Pictures
Production compaines: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Reliance Entertainment, Relativity Media, Imagine Entertainment, K/O Paper Products, Fairview Entertainment, platinum studios, K/O Camera Toys
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%
Fresh: 104 Rotten: 131
IMDB: 6.1 / 10
Director: Jon Favreau
Starring: Olivia Wilde as Ella, Harrison Ford as Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde, Daniel Craig as Jake Lonergan, Sam Rockwell as Doc, Paul Dano as Percy, Walton Goggins as Hunt, Ana de la Reguera as Maria, Clancy Brown as Meacham, Keith Carradine as Sheriff Taggart, Noah Ringer as Emmet, David O'Hara as Pat Dolan, Adam Beach as Nat Colorado, Abigail Spencer as Alice, Toby Huss as Roy Murphy, Raoul Trujillo as Black Knife, David Midthunder as Apache Warrior 1, Matthew Taylor as Luke Claiborne, Brian Duffy as Deputy, Brendan Wayne as Charlie Lyle, Gavin Grazer as Ed, Wyatt Russell as Little Mickey