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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 37.08%
Average: 14.61%
Pretty Bad: 5.62%
Total Crap: 3.37%

8 reviews, 41 user ratings

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3:10 to Yuma (2007)
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by Marc Kandel

"This Corral is just ok."
4 stars

A decent Western is no mean feat in the post-“Unforgiven” era where the only film worth a damn is “Tombstone”. "Yuma's" visuals captivate, action stimulates, and performances reach the high watermark expected from actors involved. But I dislike this film from a thematic standpoint- and with the Western that’s where the gravy is if you want greatness.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a rancher in dire financial straights, unable to support his family, tries to make ends meet by escorting charming, violent robber Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to his prison train with the criminal’s vicious gang in close pursuit. Spoilers ahead from here on out.

3:10 to Yuma is about making the hard choices. Glancing at film’s end, one might think that’s how it went down. Nope, not even close. I saw a decent man, giving all for the preservation of his family even at the cost of their respect piss it all away stupidly and selfishly over pride after walking the righteous path for near two hours. The audience receives a cheap, cathartic thrill at journey’s end that fails to elevate the film beyond standard convention.

Part of the problem is director James Mangold’s insistence to show the audience how many styles he’s mastered; Peckinpah, Leone, Zinneman, Ford, Sturges, you’ll see a little of everyone at play but nothing distinctive from Mangold, who proves he can make a genre pleaser that can ape the best of them but nothing that surpasses what has come before, at the cost of the story. The film hits all the right “Western” moments- panoramic scenery, the reluctant but stalwart hero, vicious outlaws, beleaguered townspeople, the selectively moral gunslinger, gallows bonding (a particularly heavy-handed moment between Crowe and Bale, clumsily tagged on, laughably executed), losing complexity and soul to rote pastiche.

The cinematic showboating distracts from the fascinating dilemma of Dan Evans: The cost of doing the right thing, not through proving you have guts by spilling them out in a firefight, but by walking the less glamorous road, coming home to your family that needs you at the end of the day. Time and time again, we’ve seen the former play out on screen, and this remake (the original of which I have not seen, nor have I read the short story it is based upon) might have shown us something new in its finale, opting instead for simplistic anarchy and worse, topping it off with a contemptuous joke, a last second nod and whistle from Russell Crowe’s character proving all the effort and tragedy for nothing. What a despicable message.

Yes, there’s a pretty speech about “doing the right thing” prior to the big showdown, and fair’s fair- it’s a damn good testament that had me applauding Dan (Bale is, as always, a convincing performer). It is also not lost on me that after a fashion Dan does end up “providing” for his family (in a similar fashion that one might employ to scam an insurance provider by disguising suicide as something else-- fortunately for Dan the only Claims Investigators around the Old West were probably folks looking to jump on the best gold panning stream).

But unlike The Wild Bunch’s Pike Bishop, a man possessed of nothing and no one at the twilight of his era or Wyatt Earp, having already suffered the dissolution of family, or even William Muny, who at least had the skills and natural disposition to deal with his situation despite leaving an already diminished family behind, Dan Evans’ greatest victory is the family that he has created and striven honorably to sustain, despite life’s setbacks.

Dan turns his back on the very traits that made him admirable, if not strong, and ends as his worst fear: a failure. Does his eldest son finally respect him? Sure. He’s also learned that it’s ok to leave your wife and children behind if it means going down in a hail of bullets to make a stupid point none of the town’s opportunistic cowards will ever understand. The true lesson that Dan tried so painfully to impart to his son (which should have included a hard crack to the ungrateful shit’s mouth)- that people who have a family to provide for, to sustain, to protect, are heroes for that very reason and don’t have the luxury of throwing it all away for a moment’s pride, is lost. Dan’s family is lost. Dan is himself, lost. The best anyone involved can expect is a W.W. Beauchamp type to scribble up a quick chapbook for sale in the dry goods store in a town where nobody can read anyway. Way to go Dan. In the rush to include homage to every Western under the sun, Mangold evidently forgot Charles Bronson’s impassioned rebuke to the farmers’ children in Magnificent Seven about why the people who don’t fight are heroic. Here, neither the farmers nor the fighters win.

Dan at least fares better than Russell Crowe’s character Ben Wade, a dashing, fearsome, murdering outlaw with a heart of tin, who in the end proves himself no more worthy of Ned’s friendship than he does the severe loyalty of his own men, casually tossed away when they flawlessly carry out the very duties he has drilled into them since the beginning of the story. A solid but pointless performance. Wade should have done Dan a favor and shot his ignoramus son too.

Merely “Worth A Look”. Not the compliment 4 stars might lead you to believe. Show me a Western where the lead stays true to himself, rather than a genre. Less flashy? Perhaps. I’ll take devastating truth over a lesser example of fluffed up masculine noise.

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originally posted: 03/10/08 13:47:02
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User Comments

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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