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3.10 To Yuma

3

Director James Mangold sure likes his westerns. Cop Land retooled High Noon, with Sly Stallone as Freddy Heflin, a New Jersey sheriff who’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. Heflin’s name was a nod to 3.10 To Yuma, a forgotten semi-classic from 1957 with Van Heflin as a small-time rancher who guards Glenn Ford’s big-time outlaw till the train to Yuma prison arrives.

Fitting, then, that Mangold has finally saddled up and remade it, grafting A-list stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale onto its B-movie set-up. As in the original, the drama lies in the tension between the two men as the clock tick-tocks towards 10 past three. Crowe is bulky and blokey as Ben Wade, a bloodthirsty robber baron with a silver tongue. Bale is strung-out as Dan Evans, a peg-legged Civil War vet and cash-strapped rancher. As they’re forced into each other’s company, envy feeds them both. Evans wants the outlaw’s freedom; Wade covets domestic bliss with Evans’ homestead wife (Gretchen Mol). Grudging respect eventually develops…

Mangold opens out the claustrophobic, hotel-room setting of the original and stages action set pieces – such as a frantic stagecoach robbery – with relish. The film’s secondary characters are memorably drawn too, providing quirky spins on genre staples like Peter Fonda’s Pinkerton agent or Ben Forster’s preening killer, Charlie Prince, who finds fey menace in a limp wrist and twitchy snarl.

 

Where the film falters is in the energy between its two leads, a rapport that’s surprisingly more fizzle than sizzle. Bale is excellent, playing a hero unmanned by his amputation and eager to prove himself. Crowe is less convincing, trapped in a role that requires him to be a cold-blooded varmint and keep the audience’s sympathy. Smirking his way through his scenes, the Aussie star doesn’t get to cut loose as a villain. It’s a disappointing failure of nerve and while it isn’t enough to de-rail Mangold’s likeable oater, it does keep 3.10 To Yuma from building up a full head of steam.

Verdict:

Pitting Chris against Russ, Yuma harks back to B-movie westerns but fails to tap its A-list stars' potential. Those who aren't diehard fans of the genre might want to catch a different train.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • mallardb

      Dec 18th 2008, 15:24

      4

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    • murrow458

      Feb 11th 2009, 16:54

      1

      REVIEW BY RICHARD JACK SMITH The last two years haven't exactly been very good for actor Russell Crowe. To start with, there was Ridley Scott's disappointing comedy A Good Year and that was followed by American Gangster, another inadequate film directed by Scott. So, with two cinematic misfires in a row, it stands to reason that Crowe would have learned from his mistakes. However, his latest film, 3:10 to Yuma, is a western based on an old 1957 western and it is not a very good remake. The movie doesn't have much of a plot. but, what I can tell you is that Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is an outlaw - he is captured and due to be transported on a train to Yuma prison where he will be hanged. On the way to the train, Wade befriends Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a rancher whose land is about to be taken away from him. Meanwhile, cold blooded sociopath Charlie Prince (played by Ben Foster) leads the remainder of Wade's gang to the train depot, where they attempt to free Ben from his captors. 3:10 to Yuma is an average, run-of-the-mill sort of western, incredibly slow with uninspired dialogue and poor direction from James Mangold. The contrived nature of the film is not helped by a downer ending. Film editor Michael McCusker, who worked on Mangold's last film Walk the Line (2005), lets the chips fall where they may. Unfortunately, this approach unbalances the film to the extent that it becomes dialogue heavy and light on action. I also have a problem with Marco Beltrami's music. The score doesn't really enhance the narrative in any significant way. Also, Russell Crowe, like his co-star Christian Bale, is unconvincing. Ben Foster doesn't quite do enough because his part is underwritten.

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