Saturday, September 08, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Russell Crowe and Christian Bale face off in this story based on Elmore Leonard's short story, as was the 1957 version starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, set in Arizona in the late 1800's. Ben Wade (Crowe), is a cruel and infamous outlaw and, along with his gang of heartless thieves and murders, has besieged the Southern Railroad and robbed their trains and carriers almost two dozen times. After Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Bale), volunteers to deliver him alive to the '3:10 to Yuma', a train that will take the killer to his trial and hanging, for two hundred dollars in an effort to save his drought ridden ranch and prove to his wife and sons, as well as himself, that he's not a failure. As they travel the distance, facing multiple dangers and with Wade's gang closing in, each man begins to learn more about himself through their interactions with each other as they race toward a seemingly impossible destination and a finale that only fate could have created.

Amazing movie and instant classic Western. I thoroughly enjoyed this film even though it is a remake of a classic. What keeps it on par with the original is the fact that the story remains central over unnecessary action or violence, it stays true to being a Western and the acting is as equally good if not better than the original. Christian Bale is easily one of the finest actors currently working in films and stories concerning his ability to immerse himself in a role and totally become the character are rampant and this role is no different. Bale's character's pain and fear can be seen smoldering in every scene and his motivation is so adequately summed up when he says to his wife, "I'm tired of the way the boys look at me and the way that you don't." On the flip side, Crowe uses his considerable acting talents and presence to add a bit of charm to a character that would, otherwise, simply be reprehensible. I firmly believe that only a handful of actors could have pulled off the performance that Crowe does and, yet, I'm still not convinced anyone else could have reached the same level of 'coolness.' But that's just my opinion.

Another positive note is the fact that the movie is populated with familiar actors from the past and present, the most notable being, of course, Peter Fonda who plays a bounty hunter on the lookout for Wade. Fonda's character is well played and surprisingly gritty. Another actor that I've become a fan of because of the television show Firefly (yes, I'm a Browncoat) is Alan Tudyk (Serenity, A Knight's Tale, Death at a Funeral and I, Robot) who portrays the local doctor, of sorts, and ends up becoming a very memorable character. And, lastly, I feel that I should mention the appearance of Luke Wilson,in a smaller and un-billed but right on the money role, simply because I feel that he's one of those types of actors who can call upon the perfect demeanor expected for a role in a Western. That, and the fact that he was in one of my all-time favorite episodes of the X-Files.

All in all this is definitely a movie worth seeing and when I say that, I mean in the theater as opposed to waiting for it on DVD. I realize not everyone is a fan of the Western genre but I think the acting, characters and story help this movie rise from the level of an excellent Western to that of a great movie and I'll be surprised if it doesn't receive several nominations come awards season.


Chris said...

Too funny, my flat mate was just asking if I'd heard about this movie the other night. Huge Christian Bale fan. I'm not reading your review so as not to get any spoilers. I prefer seeing a moving not knowing anything about it other than the genre and cast. Will let you know my thoughts after.

John Taylor said...

Hi chris and thanks for stopping by.
I remember you being a Christian Bale fan, like myself, and I'm sure you'll appreciate the movie. I look forward to your evaluation.