Most helpful positive review
212 of 237 people found the following review helpful
Great Remake With New Twists
on November 26, 2007
Although many say the Western is dead, in books as well as movies, it continues to rear its head and make itself known every so often. There's something inherently noble and visceral about the artform and the subject matter, the calm delineation between good and evil, that stubbornly continues to attract an audience.
In 2007, the Western showed back up at the box office in a trio of films that came out roughly at the same time. 3:10 TO YUMA was the first out of the gate, but it was followed in quick order by THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
The movie had been made fifty years ago, and much of the plot in that version made it into the remake. Both movies were based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, who has had several of his Western and crime novels made into films.
Christian Bale stars as Dan Evans, a one-legged, down-on-his-luck rancher struggling to keep a home together for his wife and two kids. Russell Crowe plays Ben Wade, an intelligent and heartless outlaw who's leading one of the blood-thirstiest gangs to ever take up the owlhoot trail.
Both stars take turns stealing scenes. Bale has the hard-edged look of coarse rawhide. Crowe possesses some of the deadest eyes ever shown in movies.
One of the best portrayals in the movie was a surprise to me, though. It took me a minute to recognize Peter Fonda as professional bounty hunter turned Pinkerton agent Byron McElroy. Fonda reminded me a lot of his father Henry, but part of that is because Fonda has aged. He also delivers a quality of acting and honesty in the character that is just amazing, and he was content to carry the supporting character role and didn't try to upstage anyone.
Logan Lerman was another surprise. He stared as William Evans, Dan's 14-year-old son. I'd thought Lerman was much older, but as it turned out he was 14 when the movie was made. He was likeable and intense.
When it came to truly cold-blooded villains, though, Ben Foster as Charlie Prince totally blew me away. The hair on the back of my neck went up as soon as he stepped on stage, and within a minute I hated him.
The story is simple. Dan is struggling to make ends meet and bumps into Wade during an armored wagon job. Later, after taking Byron McElroy into town for medical attention, Dan confronts Hollander, the man who's trying to run him off his land. When Hollander won't give him an extension on his loan, Dan finds Wade and helps take him captive. Then he agrees to help transport him to Yuma for $200.
The movie quickly spins out into the action of the violent road trip. In addition to being one of the fastest gunmen around, Wade is also a skilled psychological warrior, constantly taunting his captors and seeking out their weaknesses.
The action involves traveling through hostile Indian lands, meeting up with a team of killers working the railroad coming through the area, and a final showdown in Yuma that is one of the most exciting I've ever seen in a Western.
For two hours, I sat marveling at the characters, then tensely awaiting the outcome of the latest danger they were all facing. Even then, the twists and turns of the characters, the back stories they were all hiding till the very last moment, were awesome. No one was quite who I thought they were.
Westerns succeed best by having good men with a history of bad violence and bad men who haven't completely gone over to the dark side. 3:10 TO YUMA is one of those.
One caveat I will offer to people who have seen the original movie starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, this version does NOT follow the same paths or end up the same way. Expect to be surprised and shocked at how things turn out. And you'll be tense nearly the whole way through.