'3:10 To Yuma'
(Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, et al / DVD / R / (2007) 2008 / LGF)
Overview: In Arizona in the late 1800s, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (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.
DVD Verdict: Dale Evans is a dirt-poor farmer raising a family; one day he happens upon the charming outlaw Ben Wade, and then has the good fortunate to capture said outlaw. When it is declared that Wade will be escorted to Contention, to be put aboard the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison, Evans volunteers to help, in order to raise funds for his family. Things go wrong, of course, as Wade's gang is in hot pursuit.
Let the bullets fly!
Christian Bale is a knockout as always; the man is a chameleon. Russell Crowe lightens the screen with his portrayal of the seductive Wade (as he declares in a deleted scene: "People like me!"). The scenes between these two great actors provide more tension than any gunfire director James Mangold has to offer (and he has a lot). Peter Fonda adds a sense of class--not to mention plain old menace--as a corrupt Pinkerton detective. Ben Foster, as the psychotic Charlie Prince, is a delight to watch; he actually manages to steal some of the pivotal scenes. The film is layered with roles from actors you know; Alan Tudyk provides some jokes as the veterinarian-turned-doctor, and Luke Wilson shows a surprising knack for western menace in his cameo role.
The action is quick, of course; "3:10 to Yuma" is a western, and it never really tries to be anything but. Sure, it's more a thinking-man's western in some regards; the budding relationship between Wade and Evans is the focal point of the movie. But if you want action, you'll get it; bullets fly, wagons crash, caverns cave in, and quite a few people die. The main focus, though, is on the acting, which is all top notch; as Peter Fonda says in the making-of featurette: "I ride like the wind. I hate it, but I make it look good. That's acting."
Speaking of bonus features...the movie comes equipped with a very interesting documentary about the reality of what we perceive as the "Wild West." Hope you aren't too surprised to learn Hollywood blew things are of proportion. The addition of the documentary speaks volumes for Mangold's ideas for the movie; this is a western that never tries to transcend its genre--and by staying in place, it becomes great. Sometimes, it's nice to see a movie revel in what it is, and never try to be more than it should. Plus, it's nice to see a good contemporary western; they don't make 'em much anymore.
It doesn't matter if "3:10 to Yuma" is a remake; it is a good movie on its own. See the original, of course; but watch this one too. For you western purists, you'll enjoy it; while it does, in spots, try to be a bit more realistic, there's still plenty of the western bravado you've come to expect from Hollywood. If you like action movies...look no further. Simply put, "3:10 to Yuma" is one of the best action films in recent years, with Oscar-worthy performances and enough bullets to satisfy even the most ruthless outlaw's bloodlust. Enjoy. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Audio Commentary with Director James Mangold
"Destination Yuma" - Making-of Documentary
"An Epic Explored" Featurette
"Outlaws, Gangs and Posses" Featurette