Local opeing date: 9/7/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
archetypal, the western is a quintessential American genre. But Hollywood has little
confidence in westerns, believing its heyday has passed, so few such projects
get greenlighted. The remake of the 1957 3:10
to Yuma may
change all that if audiences embrace the many classic moments along with some
tremendously powerful and decidedly quirky elements. The film looks great, the
editing zings it along, and the music offers powerful backdrops.
But the real
reason to see 3:10 to Yuma is to watch the acting tour-de-force
by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale staring each other down, proving that less
is definitely more. For while action scenes punctuate the story, this is a
character study with quiet intensity more important than the explosive violence
Based on Elmore Leonard's 1953
short story in Dime Western magazine,
3:10 to Yuma offers simplicity of purpose and
motives. Russell Crowe plays notorious Ben Wade, a very bad hombre devoid of
any hint of recognizable human compassion. In a thrilling sequence, his equally
ruthless gang members, who call him Ben "Boss," rob the stagecoach for the 22nd
time even with the best Pinkertons on board and a Gatling gun at their disposal.
Soon, however, Wade is caught and must be transported to Contention to await
the 3:10 train to Yuma.
It will deliver him to the Federal Court housed there and Wade's long-awaited
hanging, eagerly anticipated by law-abiding citizens. Among them is impoverished
cattleman Dan Evans (Bale) who desperately needs the $200 reward to accompany
the prisoner-that's it in a nutshell with deliberate echoes of many
time-honored western conventions with Chinese railroad workers, renegade
Apaches, and other hurdles along the way.
is the least bit believable, especially the concluding shootout. I also kept
wondering why the posse didn't just hang Wade right away-there's no question
he's guilty. But then there'd be no exciting movie with Evans' wide-eyed,
teenage son along for the ride and the danger. 3:10 to Yuma
includes malicious violence, and I wonder if HBO's phenomenal Deadwood has raised the stakes or if the
escalating cinematic violence is just pervasive. Either way, director James
Mangold, known for his work on Walk the
Line, elicits splendid performances by Crowe and Bale, who prove again what
charismatic actors can do as the implosive calm at the eye of the storm
erupting around them. 3:10 to Yuma is their seminar
in acting. At area theatres.
Mon September 29
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