This is definitely a film that I had heard about but for one reason another I never got around to actually watching before today. It’s a high concept big budget mixed genre film with a quality cast and yet the reviews were very mixed. I thought it was exactly what it set out to be and I had really fun time watching it.
A man (Daniel Craig) wakes in a desert scrub with no memory of who he is or where he’s been. He has no idea how he got wounded or how he acquired a strange hi-tech bracelet that he can’t remove from his wrist. He gets clothes, a horse, a dog and a gun from three thieves that he kills, all Jason Bourne style, when they decide to annoy him so we know he’s a bit of a badass. The stranger arrives at few buildings that pass for a town out on the frontier where he gets his wound stitched-up by the local preacher Meacham (Clancy Brown). The town’ name is Absolution and it was a gold mining town but there’s no gold so now the only successful business in the town is cattle herding by the local rich guy Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).
One of the unfortunate consequences of their dependence on Dolarhyde is that his spoilt brat of a son Percy () gets away with almost anything but when the bar owner Doc (Sam Rockwell) has had enough of his drunken freeloading Percy starts shooting up the town then passing his hat around to take collection to pay his bar bill. He tries this on the stranger and gets his nuts crushed for his cheek. When Percy manages to get up and lift his gun to shoot the stranger in the back he ends up hitting a deputy who just arrived with the Sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine). Percy protests it was an accident and then starts trying to threaten then with his daddy but Taggart doesn’t really have a choice and locks him up.
The Stranger goes to the bar where Doc’s wife Maria (Ana de la Reguera) let’s him drink on the house in gratitude for his standing up to Percy and kicking him in the balls. A woman Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) comes up to him and seems to know something about him but The Stranger isn’t interested. She doesn’t want him to leave town so she gives Taggart a wanted poster. The stranger is Jake Lonergan, a dangerous outlaw and leader of gang of outlaws. Taggart gathers all his deputies and the go into the bar and after quite bit of trouble they manage to arrest him. They lock Jake up in a coach with Percy to take them to the state capital.
Dolarhyde has been told that Percy was arrested and he’s heading into town to get his son along with many of his men. Just when he arrives strange lights approach the town from the sky. These turn out to be small flying craft with grapples that they use to seize many people and fly off with them. Eventually Jake gets free and shoots down a ship with his bracelet weapon but the other ships have gone. Taggart was taken by the aliens, along with Percy and Doc’s wife Maria so Doc, Dolarhyde and Taggart’s grandson Emmett (Noah Ringer) all want to go after the aliens to get their loved ones back and Dolarhyde wants Jake to use his bracelet to take them there. Jake isn’t sure at first but some memories start coming back and he joins them hoping to learn more about himself.
This is s a pretty straightforward adventure film and I thought they did a good job blending the science fiction adventure with the western genre. The only weakness for me was the aliens’ motivation for kidnapping people since I couldn’t see the benefit to them being worth the risk. That part really only seemed to serve the plot more than making any real sense. Anyway on the upside the cast were great and special effects were pretty good. This film really delivered exactly what I expected, which is a fun big budget adventure film.