Film Reviews

3:10 TO YUMA

By • Sep 7th, 2007 •

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Crowe and director Mangold resurrect the Western! But Ben Foster almost walks off with the movie. You will see it twice.

Here is one remake that delivers. I never saw the Van Heflin-Glenn Ford original and neither did you. (You’ll have to rent it on Netflix.) So this is a brand new Western for those of us under 75. And I am sure that the new screenwriters, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas (credit is also given to Halsted Welles, screenwriter of the 1957 original),bumped up not only the sexual quotient, but the dialogue.

All the scenes between Crowe and Bale are terrific. There’s dialogue between Crowe and Bale discussing money that you will love.

Thankfully, director James Mangold has studied Crowe’s sexual appeal and dwells on his glances, smiles, and seductive line delivery. Crowe knows exactly what he is doing – he turns every male co-star into playful prey. As notorious outlaw Ben Wade, Crowe is like a big alley cat teasing motherless kittens. He does it here with Christian Bale, whose role as rancher Dan Evans is callused by failure, debt, and cowardliness. It certainly doesn’t help that Bale’s character has two sons: a sickly young one and a 14 year-old, Will (Logan Lerman),who is ashamed of him. This is the kind of guy who comes up against Crowe’s sadistic, infamous outlaw who happens to be proud of his double-digit killings.

Dan Evans (Bale), a former sharpshooter who lost a leg in the Civil War. The railroad is coming through and if he doesn’t pay off his debts, he will lose his ranch. His barn is maliciously burned down and his cattle feed is destroyed.

Evans and his sons happen to come across Ben Wade’s (Crowe) gang robbing a stagecoach. Wade confronts Evans and, understanding the situation, let’s them go. The Wade Gang has been relentlessly targeting the Southern Pacific Railroad. Stopping off in a nearby town for a lazy assignation, Wade is cornered and arrested.

The railroad’s representative, Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts – much better here than in his wimpy, puppy role in Showtime’s “The L Word”), has to bring Wade to Contention and get him on the 3:10 prison train to Yuma.

Everyone knows that Wade’s Gang will be following the stagecoach that will take their boss to Yuma. The journey is dangerous, so Butterfield offers $200 to anyone who accompanies Wade on the 3-day journey and puts him on the train. Evans joins up with the posse that includes ruthless bounty hunter Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), who has just been shot and left for dead by Wade in the stagecoach robbery.

I’m going on a trek to East Africa next month (spending several days on my own in Nairobi!) and was horrified to read the State Department’s latest travel advisory which issued this very stern warning: “Kenya’s crime and trans-national terrorism ratings both remain at critical levels. The State Department updated the Travel Warning for Kenya to note the sharp increase in violent crime. The greatest threats in Kenya are road safety, crime and terrorism. The most common crime in Kenya (especially in Nairobi) is carjacking in order to commit an armed robbery. In virtually every instance, carjackers use weapons to rob their victims. Criminals who commit these crimes will not hesitate to shoot a victim who is the least bit uncooperative, or may appear to hesitate before complying with his/her assailant. This includes victims who may be complying, but who must do something like unfastening a seat belt before getting out of the car. During a carjacking, if you must do anything as a prerequisite to following carjackers’ instructions, be sure to tell them what you are doing, and assure them you are complying.”

The Wade Gang, now led by charismatic psychopath Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), follows the stagecoach. Instead of being on the stagecoach, Wade is taken to Evans ranch. Now Wade has an opportunity to assess Evans’ circumstances, his unhappy wife, Alice (Gretchen Mol), and toy with the impressionable Will.

The three day journey is thrilling, with the posse going into hostile Indian territory and a mine-blasting town (where the casting director should get special mention for the un-credited casting of Harp Corrigan and Luke Wilson as Bisbee townsmen). And the finale? It would be a spoiler if I went any further, except to say that Crowe and Foster are so electric, you will be disappointed and want another outcome.

The Western is back.

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