3:10 To Yuma (2007)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Genres: Outlaw (Gunfighter) Film, Psychological Western, Western
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James Mangold James Mangold
Russell Crowe Russell Crowe
Christian Bale Christian Bale
Logan Lerman Logan Lerman
Dallas Roberts Dallas Roberts
Ben Foster Ben Foster

6.9 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 08, 2007
Westerns rock my world. I grew up watching them with my father and developed a deep rooted passion for men like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. "High Noon" and "The Searchers" were some of my favorite films as a kid, and I remember once catching a showing of the original "3:10 to Yuma" on American Movie Classics back in junior high school. I really didn't care for it that much because it didn't seem in keeping with more contemporary Westerns that I loved. It didn't have the feel of a "Fistfull of Dollars" or a "Cahill, U.S. Marshall". So, imagine my surprise when I heard that a Western I really didn't like was being remade, and featured one hell of an impressive cast to boot. "3:10 to Yuma" always had potential, I just don't think the original was executed in a strong enough manner to showcase it. After all, it was written by Elmore Leonard, who was young at the time and would go on to become one of the greatest novelists of our time. The remake of the film sticks pretty close to the original source material, but the screenplay has been spiffed up and the cast has been rounded out by some veterans who really shine. "3:10 to Yuma" is a remake that is better than its predecessor. It's the best Western I've seen since "Open Range".

The film stars Christian Bale as Dan Evans, a poor rancher who is facing the threat of his land being taken away from him and sold to the railroad, since he's been spending borrowed money on his sick son's medicine instead of paying the man he borrowed it from. When a ruthless outlaw named Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is finally apprehended, Dan joins a group of men who have been hired by the railroad's Mr. Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) to escort the fugitive to the city of Contention, where he is to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison. Along for the ride are a bounty hunter with a score to settle (Peter Fonda), a naive and inexperienced doctor (Alan Tudky), Evans, Butterfield and Dan's oldest son, William (Logan Lerman), who sneaks along because he's fascinated with Wade. The film follows the journey to Contention, as the group of men encounter a wide assortment of problems ranging from Apaches to vengeful railroad workers who all want to see Ben Wade dead before he reaches his destination. When they reach Contention, they then have to face Ben's gang, led by the eccentric and overly insane Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). A shoot-out ensues, in classic Western style, as Dan tries to get Ben to the train station, just as he promised he would.

What make this remake so much better than the original is the new screenplay from Michael Brandt, Derek Haas and Halsted Welles. For starters, it makes the two central characters of Dan Evans and Ben Wade far more relatable than in the original. The men get more opportunities to talk along the way and we get a little deeper insight into what makes them tick. Dan is going this for his family, because he wants the respect of his son and the love of his wife. He thinks everyone belittles him and he's tired of being a joke. We also see, along the way, that Ben is not nearly as ruthlessly evil as he makes out, though he doesn't seem to have a problem killing people he doesn't like. Fortunate for Dan and his son - Ben seems to like them. Ben has numerous opportunities to kill them, but just never seems to follow through. This isn't so troubling at first, but it leads to an ending that I found to be more than a little confusing, and even twice as disappointing. This is where "3:10 to Yuma" falls short on its greatness. It's still better than the original, but it doesn't match the level of other recent Westerns like "Open Range" and "Tombstone". I can believe that Ben might want to play along for the sport of it, but when he does what he does at the very end, I can't believe it. There is really no explanation, other than he wants to make sure everyone still thinks he's evil.

The performances here also separate this from the original by leaps and bounds. Westerns these days are rarely cast with such A-list casts, but "3:10 to Yuma" really delivers. Christian Bale delivers yet another powerful performance as Dan Evans, and he is quickly becoming the most versatile actor working in Hollywood today. What can't he do? Russell Crowe is absolutely grand as the outlaw Ben Wade, having all the fun in the world playing as bad as he wants to be. Crowe is so good at playing these types of characters and this is no exception. Logan Lerman has come a long way since "Jack & Bobby" on the WB and does a fine job as Evans' son, and Peter Fonda gets to bad it up as the bounty hunter who learns to leave Wade's mother alone. But, the entire cast does a fine job, including Dallas Roberts and Luke Wilson, who pops up in an uncredited cameo. But the key relationship is that better Evans and Wade, and both Bale and Crowe know how to make it work - by playing it low key and believable. Other than the ending, it worked. As close as they become with their banter and their confessions, I still couldn't buy the last five minutes.

So, this is a very good Western, just not a great one. The look is sleek, the direction is solid, the writing is crisp and the performances are fantastic - it's the ending that's the problem. I can see a reason for it ending the way it does, I just don't agree with it, I guess. It doesn't resolve anything at all. Sometimes, I like that - not with "3:10 to Yuma". With all of the changes that had been made to the remake to better it, I just assumed the ending would blow me away. Instead, I left the theatre with this feeling that I had spent one hundred minutes of pleasure waiting on five minutes of agony. "3:10 to Yuma" had me at hello, but lost me at goodbye. But, I do recommend it and think most audiences will enjoy it. It's not nearly as violent as its being portrayed and it's actually pretty tame for a Western compared to "Unforgiven" or "Tombstone". "3:10 to Yuma" leaves the station, chugs along for a little bit, but just never seems to reach its final destination.

Crispy #1: Crispy - added 10/10/2009, 03:08 AM
Agree whole-heartedly on the ending. Made not one bit of sense and left a nasty taste in my mouth.
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 11/27/2010, 04:05 PM
"I can see a reason for it ending the way it does, I just don't agree with it, I guess."

I couldn't agree more with that, right at the very end my face went from a smile to a frown. I wouldn't say the ending was horrible, or that I didn't understand, but I just felt it didn't need to go in that direction. Anyways, it was still a great movie. 8/10
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