3:10 To Yuma

Dir: James Mangold. 2007. Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale. English. Westerns.
3:10 To Yuma

The Western is showing signs of regained life, and no picture is a better example of the renascent genre than 3:10 to Yuma. Inspired by an Elmore Leonard story and originally filmed in 1957 with Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, the remake sports compelling performances by its leads, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.

The notorious murderer and robber Ben Wade (Crowe) is captured, and struggling farmer Dan Evans (Bale) accepts an offer of $200 to join a motley posse and pack the criminal onto a train to the state prison at Yuma. During an arduous, violent journey, the group is menaced by renegade Indians, rogue lawmen, and Wade’s gang, and the charismatic, deadly Wade presents a threat all by himself.

Crisply directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line), the film is packed with action and pulsates with unremitting suspense. But 3:10 to Yuma gains its force from the dynamic relationship between its two main characters – convincingly portrayed, ironically enough in this most American of genres, by an Australian and a Welshman. Crowe gives an Oscar-caliber performance, imbuing his homicidal outlaw with complexity and depth; he is perfectly matched by Bale as his resolute captor. The supporting cast shines; especially worthy are Ben Foster as Wade’s psychopathic lieutenant, Peter Fonda as his Pinkerton adversary, and Logan Lerman as Evans’ feisty son.

Exciting as it is, this is no mere popcorn movie. The intelligent script turns on profound questions of right and wrong in a landscape painted in shades of grey; nearly every scene ponders some hefty moral dilemma. 3:10 to Yuma is a thinking man’s Western, worthy of comparison to Australia’s Down Under oater The Proposition as a thrilling new specimen of a durable genre.

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3:10 To Yuma was nominated for 2 Oscars:  Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing.

Posted by:
Chris Morris
Jan 23, 2008 2:43pm
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