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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 36.67%
Average: 14.44%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 3.33%

8 reviews, 42 user ratings

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3:10 to Yuma (2007)
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by Erik Childress

"A Good Ride Even If An Earlier Train Would Have Been Preferred"
4 stars

When westerns make their typical bi-decade comeback, just like musicals and “serious” science-fiction, they usually arrive with more than a remake with an A-to-B plot. The original film from 1957 was pretty much a B-picture whose aspirations didn’t extend much farther than aping the success of High Noon. With its clockwatching deadline etched into the title and a story that moved to the inevitable struggle between cowardice and bravery, 3:10 To Yuma was the sum of its 90-minute parts. James Mangold’s remake keeps the nuts and bolts of the original script and attempts to add a few more nuts to the action side and even a couple bolts to its moral psyche. We now have a solid two-hour picture that succeeds when firing on all barrels and less so when its added length drags to an occasional halt.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is an earnest rancher, trying his best to provide for his wife (Gretchen Mol) and sons, but struggling through an extended drought and landowners looking to collect on his property. Left with a wooden foot for his efforts in the Civil War, his son, William, (Logan Lerman) is disspirited at his father’s pacifistic ways in dealing with those who would burn down their property. On the flipside is outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), a notorious thief well-respected by his crew who can be equally fair and brutal, often in the same shooting. After pulling their latest stagecoach job and leaving its protector, Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) practically for dead, they buy some time in the nearest town before Wade’s longing for the simple pleasures in life get him caught.

Dan, having been witness to Wade’s robbery and brought into town by the local feds, agrees to accompany the lawmen as an extra gun for a fee that could help save his family’s ranch. Wade bemusedly plays the good prisoner for the journey but makes it clear he’s not about to be threatened and almost seems capable of taking out the posse one-by-one even in handcuffs. He believes in his chances too thanks to a loyal crew, now fronted by second-in-command, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), a down-and-dirty cur who cares for no one but his leader. Understandable since Wade is a smooth talker to boot who begins questioning Dan’s commitment to this quest. What motivation could he have to leave his family behind on a practical suicide mission. The money won’t even exist if he’s dead. Can Wade buy his freedom on what seems to be a more practical solution to Dan’s problems?

The journey towards justice may be Yuma’s primary thrust, but it’s rife not with just a mano-a-mano of good vs. evil. A conflict of paternal responsibility and hero worship surrounds the central characters. Lerman’s William is nothing if not accusatory towards his father for not living up to the bravery standards a son naturally assumes with a father, especially one who has seen war up close. William’s demands on his father reaches near-caustic levels to where one hopes the whiny lad would get a taste of what it’s like to face down the barrel of a gun which he may see getting enamored at Wade’s take charge, does-what-he-says disposition. There’s only enough room for one groupie in that party though as the young Charlie’s undying loyalty to Wade suggests the absence of a father figure in his own life led to his murderous path.

Such psychology does take a backseat to the increase in action that Mangold and screenwriters Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas introduce to a tale that was originally more of a waiting game than guns-a-blazing spectacular. More action in anything is rarely, if ever, criticized. But it comes to a point where it seems the filmmakers were trying too hard to wedge in a little more boom for their western dollar. There’s an unnecessary sequence just before reaching their holding destination (with the added distraction of wondering “is that Luke Wilson?” – the answer is: yes) that is more befuddling in the motivations involved than for the bullets that connect. With the added psychology of the picture and decreasing numbers of the posse already stretching out the picture, there comes a longing for the film to get back to its pulpy roots since we’re convinced its holding its best cards for the finale.

In that aspect, 3:10 To Yuma doesn’t disappoint. The climactic shootout and rush for the train comes with both urgent brutality and sardonic consequences that improve in every way upon the original. Crowe is in prime form here as the badman with a humanistic twinkle in his eye, putting him in the fine company of classic western performances. Bale, continuing to be one of this generation’s most watchable presences, has the less showier role as the suppressed rancher carrying his own shame deep inside. When he finally lets it out, it’s more revelatory than just another character trait on the page. Of the supporting turns, it’s always great to see Peter Fonda in this element and Alan Tudyk is memorably amusing as a doctor doing more than his civic duty. A bigger problem than the film’s length is Ben Foster’s performance as the baddest of the bad. Foster basically has one note when he channels this sort of evil as we’ve seen him in Hostage and Alpha Dog, and he plays it as hard as he can. Contrast his version of intensity against what Bale has done in films like Harsh Times, American Psycho and even good guy roles like Batman Begins and you’ll see a lesson in acting.

The psycho role still makes it’s presence known though as does the pattern of the old school western when men were men and their egos came packin’ enough to shoot their own bullets into anyone trying to define their behavior. Many of the best westerns like The Searchers and Unforgiven were able to meld both. 3:10 To Yuma wants to have it both ways, and mostly succeeds on both aspects, even if it takes just a little too long to make it on schedule.

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originally posted: 09/07/07 14:00:00
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User Comments

1/14/19 Mike Amazing. Loved it. Loved Ben Wade. 5 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell great western remake 5 stars
1/23/14 Charles Tatum Outstanding remake, a modern classic 5 stars
4/30/09 Jessica Hurst This movie was friggin awesome. The guys wre really hott too. 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. finally a good western. 4 stars
12/21/08 noops.... their wrists move fast ...they r westerners 5 stars
9/14/08 Annie G Probably now my favorite western. 3 stars
9/07/08 Halad65 A great western. Bale and Crowe are great. 5 stars
7/06/08 John Millheim Good western, Crowe does a great job 5 stars
6/14/08 Michele Loved it, and I totally got the ending. Ben's remarks at the beginning give the ending away 5 stars
5/29/08 MDH-Matt One of '07's best. Crowe+Bale=Dream. Too bad Ben Foster steals the movie 5 stars
4/13/08 mark madsen this is a great movie. 5 stars
4/04/08 Colleen Cousineau My husband loved it, I don't care for westerns. 3 stars
3/29/08 R.W. Welch Nifty western until the finale which gets a little out-of-control. 4 stars
3/15/08 KingNeutron Saw it and was really disappointed - any Louis Lamour book is better than this junk. 2 stars
3/08/08 Phil M. Aficionado Strong cast and superb production values; the action and morals are extras 4 stars
3/02/08 Servo Not bad, but the ending just feels false. 3 stars
3/01/08 mormor613 Emotional rollercoaster ... superbly done 5 stars
2/06/08 Monday Morning Man, was this thing overrated. Many TV shows are much better. 3 stars
1/30/08 mr.mike Crowe and the Morricone-inspired score are aces 5 stars
1/17/08 Jason The plot makes is a nonsensical cliche of reatrdation 2 stars
1/09/08 action movie fan slightly above cliche western-not very exciting but i don,t care for westerns anyway 2 stars
1/08/08 Double M Those who think people are only extreme good\evil won't get the ending. A+ Cast. Brilliant. 5 stars
11/12/07 Alec Started out on the right foot, but the ending ruins the whole film. 2 stars
10/24/07 William Goss Thoroughly solid remake, with Fonda arguably leading a very good ensemble. 4 stars
10/08/07 Bert Kaplan Great movie; powerful,thoroughly engrosing, fades a bit at the end though 5 stars
9/26/07 damalc can't think of a movie with bale or crowe that i didn't like 5 stars
9/25/07 raimey wright Outstanding-Russell Crowe now rides along with the greats of the old west.SEE IT!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
9/23/07 Edler Very disappointing- The story is not believable and the characters are not likeable. 3 stars
9/22/07 Ole Man Bourbon Good movie, stupid ending. 4 stars
9/22/07 MP Bartley Mangold knows his genres inside out. Bale and Crowe outstanding. 4 stars
9/18/07 Quigley A pretty entertaining Western carried by Crowe and Bale. Not enough gunfights and action 4 stars
9/17/07 Private Deliberate, classy morality themed western based drame. Solid acting 4 stars
9/14/07 Bopo Very disappointing. A good theme that needed a better story to tell it. 3 stars
9/14/07 ciscokid Plot had too many holes and ending that makes no sense, Peter Fonda's character was great 2 stars
9/11/07 Elizabeth Nice to see a good western again! 4 stars
9/11/07 mark just another over the top shoot em up 3 stars
9/10/07 Jim Dumb. Bad guy wasn't loved by mom & shoot the bad guys standing in the street! 1 stars
9/09/07 Russ This movie looks awesome 5 stars
9/09/07 Joe Smaltz I may have seen a stupider, and worse movie, but I don't remember it. Crowe had a nice hat! 1 stars
9/07/07 Luce Rains Marshal Weathers in 3:10 to Yuma 5 stars
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  07-Sep-2007 (R)
  DVD: 08-Jan-2008



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