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3:10 TO YUMA

  Publicity Stills of "3:10 To Yuma"
(Courtesy from Encore Films)

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Genre: Crime/Western
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Tudyk, Luce Rains, Gretchen Mol
Runtime: 1 hr 57 mins
Released By: Encore Films
Rating: PG
Official Website: http://www.encorefilms.com/310toyuma.html

Opening Day: 17 January 2008


Infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the "3:10 to Yuma", a train that will take the killer to trial. On the trail, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other’s respect. But with Wade’s outfit on their trail – and dangers at every turn – the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man's destiny.

Movie Review:

Westerns have never had much mainstream appeal – even when Clint Eastwood was directing them – but if there was ever a chance one might experience commercial success, it will likely be “3:10 to Yuma,” a remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford classic starring two of the best actors in the business and helmed by the director of “Walk the Line.” Westerns have become so infrequent in the last decade that one would be hard-pressed not to admit it's a dying genre. Stories of shootouts, thieves, cowboys and saloons of the Old West are today antiquated, overly conventional and dried-up in mainstream cinema. Because there seems to be a lack of relevancy in films of this ilk, filmmakers brave enough to attempt one better have something special up their sleeve in order to set themselves apart from the crowd. But unlike other modern attempts, this is not an action film set in the West but a proper western. The tale focuses primarily on the choices and actions of a small band of men as they travel through canyons, trails and rickety-shacked towns. The key elements to the success of this film are incredibly simplistic.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is a bad man living a good life. He knows and darn it if he doesn’t really care. All that matters is that his men, especially cold-blooded right-hand man Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), continue to follow him and that their scores robbing stage coaches and locomotives keeps filling his pockets with coin. As for disagreements, he’s not worried. After all, that’s what bullets are for. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a good man in a bad situation. The former Union sharpshooter is behind on his debts, his family’s future on their desolate farm very much in jeopardy. Wife Alice (Gretchen Mol) tries to be supportive whilst youngest son Mark (Benjamin Petry) continues to look up to his father even with all the adversity. The same can’t be said for the man’s eldest boy William (Logan Lerman), however, the budding young man unable to comprehend his superior’s continued supposed timidity in the face of all hardships assaulting them. These two opposite men with polarizing views on how to live their lives are thrust together when Wade is captured by the law. Offered enough money to get himself free of debt, Dan joins the posse escorting the outlaw to the township of Contention and be securely placed on the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison. But doing it will not be easy, especially with William secretly tagging along and Charlie and the rest of the gang dogging their every step. Yet Dan is a man of his word. With people falling like swatted flies or fleeing away from the task like a scared colony of ants, this farmer feels responsible for doing exactly what it is he said he would. Even when the world turns against him he will not fail in the task, and with all guns blazing to stop him Dan Evans, a good man whom life has delivered a few too many bad apples, will make sure admitted bad man Ben Wade gets on that train to Yuma no matter what.

Of the two leads, Christian Bale is saddled with the less showy role of Dan Evans. Bale, one of today's most chameleonic actors, lives up to the script requirements as he portrays a man tired of barely squeaking by in life and, with his family's welfare in the forefront of his mind, willing to risk everything for a chance at the financial security that has forever eluded him. However, it is Russell Crowe's stellar work as morally questionable convict Ben Wade that overpowers Bale. Crowe, a powerful, riveting force even in whispers, is the one performer who enriches the depth of his character beyond what on the written page is as much a stock figure as the rest of them. Watching Ben, who claims to be a cold-hearted murderer but begins to sympathize with Dan's personal plight, is a treat as Crowe gives life to him. In supporting turns, Logan Lerman is capable but bland as the impressionable William, and Ben Foster adds another notch to his belt depicting an oily creep as uninhibited psychopath Charlie Prince.

The screenplay written by Halsted Welles and writing partners Michael Brandt and Derek Hass deftly develops these remarkable characters deviating quite a bit from the screenplay of the original to expand upon the father-son relationship in a way that starts off a bit trite (though certainly authentic) and morphs into something truly admirable and incredibly special. The character triangle provides an incredibly powerful series of interactions and growth potential for all three that elevates this from a good-guy vs. bad guy story into one where the true complexities of the grays between good and bad manifest in thought-provoking ways.

Most people tend to believe that people can change for the better when inspired by the right recipe of circumstances. Hollywood provides so few stories where the black and white of the souls of men are not as obvious as the colors of their Stetsons and the culmination of the film's efforts are the good guy plunging the bad guy off the 30th story balcony with his body ending up impaled on some sharp object. 3:10 to Yuma puts forth a different proposition; and, in so doing, elevates itself out of the cliché and into a realm where the improbable become possible.

Movie Rating:

(310 to Yuma breaths life back into the western genre. With all the bullets flying and men running, it's worth the ride through)

Review by Lokman B S


. The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)

. American Gangsters (2007)

. The Prestige (2006)

. Walk The Line (2005)

. Batman Begins (2005)

. Bandidas DVD (2006)

. The Proposition DVD (2005)

. Ned Kelly VCD (2003)

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