34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
Good and Evil
, September 8, 2007
This review is from: 3:10 to Yuma [Theatrical Release] (Theatrical Release)
The Western film: a truly American invention and in this new millennium a rare commodity. "Unforgiven" comes to mind and that was 10 years or so ago. There are others, of course but they are few and far between. There are Westerns that glamorize the Old West: "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" and those that don't: "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance."
"3:10 to Yuma" is somewhere in between the two mentioned above and it is about the eternal struggle between good and evil, between the have and the have nots, between those that would uphold the family and those that would demolish it and those who would preserve the peace and those that would let chaos rule.
James Mangold ("I Walked the Line") has chosen to remake, revise, re-invent the 1957 Glenn Ford starring "3:10 to Yuma" with a sterling cast of Russell Crowe (as outlaw, train robber, Ben Wade), Christian Bale (erstwhile Batman as Dan Evans: everyman, ranch owner-going broke) whose life is turned upside down when he accidentally comes in contact with Wade while Wade is in the process of robbing a Pinkerton protected stage of all of it's loot.
Crowe dominates the screen as Wade. His Wade is mercurial, slimy, sexy, brutal...seemingly willing to do anything for the thrill of stealing and killing. Crowe plays Wade quietly even sympathetically but always in control even when he physically isn't. Crowe dominates, both physically and cosmically, every scene that he is in: he sucks the oxygen out of a room upon entering and, in the one sex scene of the film, his "prey" has no choice, nor does she struggle by the way, but to comply with his wishes. In fact, she wants it as much as he does.
Bale's Evans is downtrodden, desperate as well as desperately poor. He is days away from losing his farm and more importantly losing the respect of his family: the more important of the two in the world of "3:10." For in this world you are nothing without family and property and less than nothing if you lose it.
On many levels Wade and Evans connect: they look at each other and their expressive eyes tell us something akin to "there but for the grace of God go I." But way down deep inside each man, inside their cores, they are brothers who have merely taken different roads.
There is lots of violence, murder and even a little sex in "3:10" and perhaps it is even a bit long by 20 minutes but ultimately Mangold pulls all the various pieces together into a cohesive whole. But the real magic of this film comes from the premiere acting jobs of Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and a terrific Ben Foster ("6 Feet Under") as Charles Prince: a grotesque killing machine, more "Mad Max" than Jesse James who, against all odds plots to save Wade from destruction.
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