3:10 to Yuma

Movies Reviews Christian Bale
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3:10 to Yuma

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Cinematographer: Phedon Papamichael
Starring: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol
Studio/Running Time: Lions Gate Films, 117 min.

“All the old stations have been torn down
The high-flying trains no longer roll
The floors are all sagging with boards that are softened
Are not being used anymore
And things are all changing, the world’s rearranging
Time that will soon be no more
So where has the slow-moving, once quick-draw outlaw got to go?”
Willie Nelson “Slow Movin’ Outlaw”

Considering the high profile he maintains, it’s interesting to note that Russell Crowe has appeared in only six films since 1999. But Crowe’s success is measured in quality rather than quantity, being nominated for three Oscars over the past few years and winning for 2001’s Gladiator. With the release of 3:10 to Yuma, Crowe’s quality continues.

Based on the original 1957 film and a story by Elmore Leonard, Crowe plays the notorious outlaw Ben Wade who has been captured in a small western town. Low on money and about to lose his ranch, family man Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and others are hired to help escort Wade on a three-day journey to the nearest train bound for the prison in Yuma while his ever-loyal gang waits for the opportunity to set their leader free. (Ben Foster is wonderfully evil and despicable as Wade’s unfailingly loyal lieutenant Charlie Prince.)

While the group struggles against the outlaws, they also encounter attacks from Indians forced from their homeland, and railroad workers intent to dispense their own form of justice. Director James Mangold turns the trip into a mini-epic on the historical changes of the old west. As the relationship between Wade and Evans transforms, the fine line between good and evil is well played, serving as a just tribute to earlier, classic westerns such as The Searchers and, more recently, Unforgiven. The film hurtles toward the inevitable climax at the train station where it comes close to imploding from the weight of its own cleverness. But somehow it works.

3:10 to Yuma is just another in a series of advancing steps for Bale who continues to impress beyond the super hero status, first with The Prestige and then this year’s Rescue Dawn. As Evans, he demonstrates both self-defeat and tremendous courage, while Crowe never appears to be acting. He is Wade with all the complexities of a great leader—confident, faithful, ruthless and self-centered, the kind of qualities that make newspaper headlines.