James Magnold’s new film is the first big studio western since Unforgiven, and along with The Assassination of Jesse James harkens a call for a return to this genre in cinema as long as it is taken seriously and in talented hands.
Talent is abundant with the leads of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, staring as our villain and hero respectively, and James Magnold coming off the success of Walk the Line the movie was primed for success. A remake of a film of the same name from 1957, the plot involves the escorting of legendary criminal Ben Wade (Crowe) by a smattering of personas, particularly Dan Evans (Bale) a civil war vet and rancher trying to earn the respect of his family and pay off the debts on his ranch.
Crowe is great as the smooth talking likeable bad guy Ben Wade that you can’t help but enjoy his antics. He is lethal and not one to be trifled with and is ever so confident in every decision he makes. Willing to take risks and do whatever it takes to save his own skin you never know what Wade is going to do next.
Bale plays Evans as an opposite to Crowe’s Wade, always avoiding conflict and watching out for his family. Evans is weak and gets walked over by many and is respected by few; including some of his family members. Evans is trying to prove himself by helping getting wade on the 3:10, but throughout the film we still see the fear and watch him grow and gain confidence as they near their ultimate destination.
The supporting cast is also good with Alan Tudyk as the wholesome veterinarian/doctor as the voice of good throughout the film. Logan Lerman is good as Evans son that ends up along for the ride. Peter Fonda overacts his way through a grizzled “pinkerton” role as a hired gun for the railroad Wade keeps robbing.
Ben Foster deserves specific mention as the wild eyed psycho, Charlie Prince, 2nd in command to Wade’s gang. Foster oozes evil and is ruthless and no heart as he moves trough the film killing without question feeding off the potential for violence. Foster is a great actor and hopefully this gains him a lot more well deserved work.
The film works well and never slows down until a bit of dragging toward the end in Contention, but the running time zips by with plenty of action and rarely leaves the party or Wade and Evans. The film also looks really good and authentic with the gritty feel of the old west beautifully presented. The music is also worth mentioning and calls back to the great scores of Ennio Morricone, with the music sucking you in from the opening title screen.
3:10 to Yuma works very well and has no major faults outside a bit of a questioning of the motivations of characters at the end. The movie just lacks that special punch to send it into that amazing stratosphere of film. Crowe and Bale are excellent as always and the movie is extremely entertaining, it’s just missing something, what I don’t know, but something didn’t click with me. Anyways, check it out, one not to be missed, especially for western fans that have been salivating for something new for while.