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3:10 to Yuma (2007)

October 10, 2009

8/10 Regrettable Chaperoning Gigs

Right up there with The Proposition and Open Range as one of the best Westerns of the past ten years.

3:10 to Yuma is about a morally sound and financially broke individual in the old West who signs up to escort a morally unsound notorious criminal from point A to point B so that he can make the train that’ll bring him to be tried in a court of law. In return, the said escort gets $200.

What a gyp.

I actually didn’t have much interest to see this when it first came out, but since my good buddy Fred had to go see it for one of his college courses as extra credit (how cool is that?), I naturally tagged along. I wasn’t expecting much, but that always makes good movies better anyway.

Without trying to sound redundant, this is an old-timey Western. This is some High Noon shit about a good guy standing up to do the right thing because everyone else would rather save their own hides than bother themselves with justice. This is a good thing, that’s what the best Westerns are all about. And while the story is simple enough, what makes 3:10 to Yuma stand out are the surprisingly complex and outrageously badass characters.

Let’s go down the list, shall we?

For starters, we’ve got Christian Bale as the good guy, Dan Evans. Even though Christian Bale’s cool factor is kind of waning for me, mostly because he got completely overshadowed in The Dark Knight and since Terminator: Salvation was a fucking joke, he’s still a pretty cool dude and he does a good job here.

Next up we have Russell Crowe as the bad guy, Ben Wade. Normally, Russell Crowe doesn’t really do it for me, but he is the freakin’ man here. The difference between Bale and Crowe’s characters is that Dan Evans is more of a straight shooter and he really doesn’t falter all that much from who he is at the movie’s start. Ben Wade on the other hand is one of those guys who’ll play with your head, smile while you spit in his face, then murder your ass while you’re sleeping like it’s no big thing. It’s a great character with a whole lot of depth to him and Crowe totally rocks it. He doesn’t have to do a whole lot but smile, act natural, and read off his great lines from his great script, but that’s something Crowe doesn’t do enough of. This is the best thing he’s done since L.A. Confidential (nope, not Gladiator) and an unexpected selling point of the movie for me.

Peter Fonda is also in it as one of Bale’s fellow escorts, and even though he’s not around for very long, Peter Fonda is one cool bastard and thus earns himself a mention.

But the best part of 3:10 to Yuma more than the story, the writing, the directing, and all the aforementioned actors is newcomer to the game, Ben Foster. I don’t know where this kid came from, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him in anything else, but after seeing him in this movie, I am sold. He plays the leader of Crowe’s gang that’s trying to track him down before he reaches his train to Ye Olde People’s Court, and what a performance does he put on. Easily the coldest, meanest mofo in the movie and he absolutely lights up the screen. You wait until the credits roll and believe me, all you will be talking about after is “Who the hell is Ben Foster?” Keeping an eye out for this kid, he’s on a short list of some of the best up-and-coming actors around right now.

All in all, if you’re into Westerns or just like a good, gritty action movie riddled with great characters and an intense plotline, 3:10 to Yuma won’t steer you wrong. Only complaint is a morally muddled scene at the very end of the movie that kind of makes or breaks the outcome of everything, but still, something you can probablyoverlook in relation to everything else it does right.

Who knew James Mangold made such boss movies? Keep up the good work, man. Well done.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 10, 2009 6:06 am

    Glad to see you liked The Proposition and Open Range two underappreciated films. I enjoyed 3:10 to Yuma although not as much as you. There was something aboput it that didn’t sit right with me. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is but it was almost like it was a parody of everything that had gone before it. I would agree that “This is the best thing he’s [Russell Crowe] done since L.A. Confidential (nope, not Gladiator)” if not for The Insider. Crowes best performance and the best movie he has been involved in. I don’t tend to rate films out of ten but I will on this occasion, I will go for a solid 7 out of 10 just a little below your rating.

    • Pete G permalink
      January 6, 2010 4:53 am

      “There was something aboput it that didn’t sit right with me. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is but it was almost like it was a parody of everything that had gone before it.”

      It wasn’t so much a parody as an utter joke of a film. The script sounds as if it was written by a couple of ________ children.

  2. Branden permalink
    October 10, 2009 4:15 pm

    I guess, I don’t like modern westerns as much as everyone else. I didn’t like this movie.

    Something rang false about this movie. I didn’t believe that these people would exist in the Old West.

    • Pete G permalink
      January 6, 2010 4:55 am

      These people exist only in the pathetically limited imagination of whatever dunce wrote the script.

      The characters were not at all plausible, e.g. The rancher’s wife telling him at the beginning that “we were supposed to make decisions together” – in the real West she would have felt a swift back-hand.

  3. October 12, 2009 7:03 am

    Cracking film, one of the best westerns in a long time! Don’t understand why people don’t get in to this as much as I did… much like you and the Proposition :-p

    • October 12, 2009 7:45 am

      That’s what I’m sayin’! Glad to hear it, man. Thought I was going crazy there for minute.

  4. January 19, 2014 1:20 pm

    This is one of my favorite movies. In order to really appreciate it, you have to look into it a bit deeper and really immerse yourself in the story. What I really liked was how all the characters had different sides to them; they had depth and flaws and there was no black and white, it was pretty much gray area. The supposedly worst man has his own set of morals he follows, only killing men who have killed the innocent. I love that part where he throws the old guy off the cliff, because supposedly that man was so close to the bible and god, but had no problem murdering a whole tribe of Apache Indians with children. Wane didn’t want Dan to die… did you notice the symbolism when he drew Dan’s portrait on the first page of the bible? He killed his gang because they killed a good man, not because he’s a psychopath. Charlie Prince is like a puppy dog, he has no rules except that he does whatever his master tells him to. It broke my heart the way he looked at Wade in the end, like when your dog doesn’t understand why you’re mad at it, because it did what you asked.

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