In something of a departure, Harrison Ford is not the hero of this piece, but he’s not quite the villain, either. As the Colonel is forced to confront his actions and their consequences, flashes of the better man he once was peek through. He’ll find redemption in the end, though it comes at a price.

Indeed, “Absolution” is more than the name of the town; it’s the undercurrent of the film. As the gun-toting, whisky-drinking preacher assures the stranger, “God doesn’t care who you were, boy, only who you are.” Before it’s over, multiple parties will have done the right thing, including offering and accepting forgiveness.

Cowboys & Aliens is a 118-minute roller coaster ride. It’s intense more than scary, with “gotcha” moments looming anytime the action even thinks about slowing down. I wouldn’t take a child, a young teen, or anyone of a nervous disposition along, but if you like westerns and/or sci-fi, this is a must-see. It has cowboys . . . and aliens. What’s not to love?

CAUTIONS:

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Considerable whisky consumption, even the preacher partakes. Several saloon scenes. Character given unspecified (possibly hallucinogenic) drink. Smoking.
  • Language/Profanity: A wide variety but not much quantity by today’s standards. D-word, once in conjunction with God; son of a b----; what the h---; s-word (combined with “bull” and as a standalone); references to male body parts as peck—and ba----; female identified as a prostitute and referred to as a who--. Two characters shown answering the call of nature and a couple of potty-humor references. The Holy Family’s first names used as profanity.
  • Sex/Nudity: One brief back view of a nude female, not in a sexual situation. A couple of kisses, some between married couples, some not.
  • Violence: Begins almost immediately and continues almost nonstop until the end. Shooting, stabbing, beating, spitting, dragging, blows to crotch, broken teeth, torture inflicted by both human and aliens.
  • Spiritual Themes: Redemption is a theme, though from a works perspective rather than via a relationship with God. One character is exposed as an alien in human form upon apparently rising from the dead. (Human death not necessarily equaling alien death.) Ford’s character infers that “becoming a man” equals killing another person. A graveside prayer is theologically fuzzy but well-intentioned.