3:10 to Yuma
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir James Mangold
scr Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
with Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Logan Lerman, Gretchen Mol, Dallas Roberts, Alan Tudyk, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Kevin Durand, Johnny Whitworth, Benjamin Petry
release US 7.Sep.07, UK 14.Sep.07
07/US Lionsgate 2h02
3:10 to Yuma
Howdy partner: Bale and Crowe

foster mol roberts
3:10 to Yuma This gritty remake of the 1957 Western has a dark edge that's extremely well-developed by director Mangold, plus layered acting by Bale and Crowe. Although despite plenty of wit and energy, it's very grim.

Dan Evans (Bale) is an Arizona rancher who's about to lose his farm due to a drought. Injured in the Civil War, he's so thoroughly decent that he can't quite earn the respect of his fed-up wife (Mol) and surly teen son (Lerman). After witnessing a stagecoach robbery by the notorious Ben Wade (Crowe) and his gang, Dan helps the authorities arrest Ben, then offers to escort Ben to the nearest train station to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison. But Ben's vicious henchman (Foster) is on their tail.

There's a level of rough realism here that we rarely see in Westerns, a crackle of danger, not from all the guns, but from the difficulties of life in such a primordial location. These characters struggle against the sky and the earth, recognising that they're all in this together, whichever side of the law they choose. The real villain is the city slicker (Roberts) who represents the bank and owns the sheriff. When money equals power, real justice is impossible. Yes, this is fairly simplistic, but it adds a level of earthy resonance for 21st century audiences.

Bale and Crowe are both terrific, carrying troubled histories in their eyes and building terrific chemistry through sheer intensity. Yes, this is Acting with a capital A, but it's also thoroughly riveting--and mercifully free of scene-chewing. That role falls to the eye-popping, muscle-rippling Foster, who's pretty terrifying as a cruel thug hopped up on pure adrenaline.

This is a great story full of surprising twists, impossible decisions and vivid characters. The moral quagmire is overpowering, throwing us right into the middle to ask what we would do. It's perhaps rather wilfully confrontational, and also strangely simplistic. Even in the jarring turmoil of the final sequence, which intriguingly rewrites the original ending, the film seems to take a vaguely contrived movie-finale turn. But it still challenges us to spot the difference between what's heroic, right, wrong or just plain stupid.

cert 15 themes, strong violence, language 6.Aug.07

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... 3:10 to Yuma Melody, USA: 5/5 "It's a great movie, just excellent. Starts out at full speed and never lets up. The script is great, what the characters do makes sense because of their personal histories, even though you in the audience can see nothing but trouble ahead for them. Russell Crowe has never been better. He and Christian Bale strike sparks off each other, like two pieces of flint. You will be sitting on the edge of your seat the entire movie. The moral(s) of the story are thought provoking, it makes you think. The movie is full of violence but the characters (major and minor) just inhabit that world, to the point to where they seem to not realize the chances they are taking, because it's everyday life in the west. Best movie I've seen in a long time. Engages your mind while it pulls your heart along the plot." (3.Sep.07)
2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall