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3:10 to Yuma

A 2007 movie starring Russell Crowe

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The World Might Be Black and White, But It Appears Grey

  • Dec 26, 2007
The western used to be king in Hollywood. Then it died. Or so goes conventional wisdom. "The western is dead" is a mantra repeated by those who either just don't understand the genre or don't understand that for any movie to succeed, regardless of genre, it either has to have a great story or great characters or, best yet, both. 3:10 TO YUMA has both and it should come as no surprise to anyone that it's one of the best films released in 2007.

The film is a remake of a 1957 movie. I have yet to see the original, so I can't compare the two.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a simple rancher trying to make an honest living as a small time rancher. However, Evans borrowed money from the wrong person and the sooner Evans is off the land the better. The money lender keeps sending people to harass Evans and his family even though he still has time to pay off the debt. While traveling to Bisbee to try to clear up some of land and debt problems, Evans and his son arrive at the scene of a stagecoach robbery by Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). Wade asks to borrow Evan's horses, but promises he shall get them back later. Torn between letting a wanted criminal escape and protecting his family, Evans submits. As he continues to town, he finds his horses on the trail unharmed. Later Wade is captured in Bisbee and Evans is recruited as a deputy to escort Wade to Contention to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma. Evans doesn't really want to perform the job, but the money offered is enough to save his ranch and keep his family fed. The journey to Contention is a perilous one as they are pursued by Wade's gang, are forced to travel through hostile Indian territory, and have a run-in with some railroad workers who want to have their own personal revenge on Wade. Despite having an incredibly violent shootout, the movie finds its core in the values of honor and commitment and the psychological struggles that a man has to deal with in living an honorable life.

Russell Crowe does a decent job at portraying Ben Wade. Wade is an interesting paradox. He is a ruthless killer, but he also lives by a twisted code of ethics and honor. Near the beginning of the film he's presented the opportunity to kill the one man that has been hunting him his entire life, but he doesn't and lets the man live. I know many people didn't have the same reaction, but at the end of the film I really cared about Wade and was hoping that he would evade the law a little longer.

Even though Crowe received first billing, the real star of the film is Christian Bale. Bale is such a talented actor that I will watch any movie he is in. His performance of the conflicted rancher Dan Evans is perfect. Evans is trying desperately to live an honest life, but finds it incredibly difficult, especially since he has a secret that his family has no knowledge. The role is one that in the hands of a less talented actor would seem to be sentimental and cliché. Bale's performance is none of that and fills Evans with a conflicted emotional intensity that any man who has ever considered himself a "common man" can relate.

I know that this version of 3:10 TO YUMA has received some criticism for not staying true to the original story, being too violent, not being realistic, and being too psychological. As noted earlier, I've never seen the original film and therefore can't personally comment on the criticism. However, talking with others who have seen the original film as well as this version, I get the impression that the movie might not be exactly the same as the original film, but does remain true to the spirit of the film as well as the original Elmore Leonard story that both movies were based upon.

The film is violent, but it isn't incredibly graphic; people get shoot and they bleed and people get hurt and you see their pain. That's the type of violence here. Sure it's bloody, but it is realistic and none of it feels unnecessary. As for the film being unrealistic, well this is a movie. Sure the shoot out at the end probably would not have unfolded as it did in real life. However, given the character of Ben Wade, it still fits within our "suspension of disbelief" (you know, also known as imagination, that thing that has to happen in order for a movie or story to work).

The movie is very psychological. Good guys don't always wear white and bad guys aren't always dressed in black. Heroes have flaws and villains can sometimes turn out to be a hero. That might not be the way things are supposed to be, but that is the way things usually are in this world. I like a good old fashioned Western almost as much as my parents do, but I like it when things get mixed up a little, too. To me, movies are a bit more realistic when things appear grey instead of just black and white. Highly recommended and in my opinion one of the best movies released in theatres in 2007.

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More 3:10 to Yuma reviews
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2011
This adequate remake of Delmer Daves' superb western substitutes Russell Crowe and Christian Bale for Glenn Ford and Van Heflin nearly fifty years after the release of the original. It could be said that these famous leads are underutilized in their respective roles; Crowe is persistently capable, Bale seemingly capable of anything and this movie is fairly undemanding in comparison to the usual rigor of their work. Even more than its predecessor, this movie's plot bears as many clever twists …
review by . October 14, 2009
Let me begin this review by stating that I have never seen the original 3:10 to Yuma, and that I am not a fan of Western movies. Having said that, I liked this movie, and thought it was one of the best movies of the year. Starring two great actors, and a host of smaller-name actors and actresses, this movie is part action, part drama, with a little bit of comedy and romance thrown in. The gun fight scenes are great, and very realistic. The storyline itself is very good with original characters. …
review by . January 10, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
This remake has little in common with the 1957 Glenn Ford classic of the same name.     The basic story is identical: Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a hardscrabble rancher, down on his luck, trying to make a go of his dusty, drought-ridden ranch. He has borrowed from Hollander who wants Evans off the land so the railroad will buy it. (This doesn't make a lot of sense since the railroads were awash in federal land given to them.) Hollander has cut off Evans' water and Evans is …
review by . August 29, 2008
Now I will admit something right of the bat before I get into my review. I have only recently seen this movie and turned down a number of opportunities to watch this film simply because it is a western. I will now hold my hands up and say how wrong I was and after seeing the light I have to say, this has now taken over Pulp Fiction as my favourite movie EVER!!! From start to finish this film grabs hold of you and gives you a damn good shaking. The biggest point of this film is the general authenticity …
review by . January 29, 2008
Ok, so I'm certainly not much of a fan when it comes to westerns but 3:10 to Yuma gets me in the mood for them. This feels like Russell Crowe's best film since Gladiator and Christen Bales best film ever. In the beginning the movie starts with a blazing fire. Even though it starts off with such an exciting scene I started to doubt it for some reason. Christen Bale plays Dan Evans who is a hardworking rancher and former soldier trying to take care of his family. The problem is his land is in a drought …
review by . January 18, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Yes, it's a western, a remake, and yes, it's bloody and yes it's so terrific you will want to watch it again right after having finished it the first time.    Perfect acting by everyone. Russell Crowe is given the chance to show his amazing talent, to really dig into it. Christian Bale is marvellous as a father trying to make up for lost chances, finally doing it right.   But to me what struck me most, is the amazing talent of Logan Lerman who plays C. Bale's son. I …
review by . May 16, 2008
With his family on the brink of losing everything, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) agrees to help the Southern Pacific Railroad bring a wicked villain, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), to justice. Justice happens to be at the train station in Contention, where Wade is expected to hitch a ride on the 3:10 to Yuma and imprisonment. The only things stopping Evans and his allies from making it to Contention is Wade himself and his vicious gang, headed up by the overprotective and violent Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). …
review by . January 09, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
If there is a truly unique American contribution to film making then that contribution has to be the Western. Though not as popular a theme these days as it was in past decades, it only takes a powerhouse film such as 3:10 TO YUMA to remind us just how pungent storytelling of this type can be. Yes, the story itself (based on a short story by Elmore Leonard) is rather simple: desperate farmer needs money to save his failing farm and family and signs on to escort a powerful outlaw to the train that …
review by . January 27, 2008
With all the positive reviews for this film, I was expecting a lot better. Christian Bayle is a cattle rancher who witnesses a group of bandits robbing a bank coach. The lead robber (Russell Crowe) lets him go, however Bayle ends up joining a group of lawmen that are after the bandits for over 20 robberies.    There is a lot of cat and mouse between Crowe and Bayle and by the end they have developed a relationship that reminded me of Crowe and Denzel Washington in American Gangster. …
review by . January 12, 2008
The comparison is old but appropriate: The samurai flick and the western are first cousins. There's the cool hero, defined by his actions, but almost completely without essence. There's a sense of honor and dangerously violent threats to life and limb. Courage, honor and loyalty defend themselves and we are left to identify with them and share their triumph. It's all good, clean fun and the transfer between samurai and cowboy works so well that The Magnificent Seven didn't even bother to adapt the …
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Here's hoping James Mangold's big, raucous, and ultrabloody remake of 3:10 to Yuma leads some moviegoers to check out Delmer Daves's beautifully lean, half-century-old original. That classic Western spun a tale of captured outlaw Ben Wade (Glenn Ford)--deadly but disarmingly affable--and the small-time rancher and family man, Dan Evans (Van Heflin), desperate enough to accept the job of helping escort the badman to Yuma prison. Wade, knowing that his gang will be along at any moment to spring him, works at persuading the ultimately lone deputy to accept a bribe, turn his back on "duty," and go home safe and rich to his family. That the outlaw has come to admire his captor intriguingly complicates the suspense. All of the above applies in the new 3:10, but it takes a lot more huffing and puffing to get Wade (Russell Crowe this time) and Evans (Christian Bale) into position for the showdown. Mostly, more is less. To Mangold's credit, his movie doesn't traffic in facile irony or postmodern detachment; it aims to be a straight-up Western and deliver the excitement and charisma the genre's fans are starved for. But recognizing that contemporary viewers might be out of touch with the bedrock simplicity and strength of the genre--not to mention its code of honor--Mangold has supplied both Evans and Wade with a plethora of backstory and "motivations." At the overblown action climax, the crossfire of personal agendas is almost as frenetic ...
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