Complete A-Z list

Cowboys & Aliens


Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Ana de la Requera, Keith Carradine, Noah Ringer, Walton Goggins, Chris Browning

Director: Jon Favreau

You'll know what to expect: here's a film that does exactly what it says on the tin. Loner Craig, with a convincing wild west accent and shirt ripped to show off that chest, wakes up in the middle of nowhere with a wound in his side, a strange device on his wrist and no shoes on his feet.

Arriving in a dusty town, it seems his face matches that on a wanted poster. In no time, he has tangled with the braggart son (Dano) of local rancher Dollarhyde (Ford), the youth's wild shot hitting a deputy sheriff. Both Craig and the kid find themselves in a caboose headed for the local marshal, but no sooner has Ford arrived with his men, intent on releasing his wastrel son, than the aliens move in, blasting the town apart and whisking several of its surviving citizens off into the skies.

Turns out that the aliens are mining for gold, success at which could mean the destruction of our planet. So old enmities must be forgotten, Ford in particular learning things about his fellow man, as cowboys, cattlemen, outlaws, townsmen and even Indians must band together against the aliens - accompanied by a mystery girl (Wilde) who insists Craig has the knowledge to defeat the invaders.

Could it be something to do with that wrist armoury that blasts flame-edged holes in people? 'Hell,' says Ford, 'we've got a boy and a dog along. Why not a girl as well?'

With a storyline that's reminiscent of The Searchers (yes, Craig, does 'ride away' at the end), the film also has a string of interesting characters, including Special Victims Unit's Beach as a native American who's the top hand Ford wishes had been his son.

The aliens themselves, big, green, ugly things, with bodies that can open to reveal grasping hands, give as good as they get and more - until the end, of course. It's action all the way.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: Paramount (Paramount/DreamWorks/Universal/Imagine). Colour by deluxe.
118 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 13 Aug 2011