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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 brianorndorf

"Just make sure you nap before you watch it"
3 stars

There’s a disconnect of sorts in “3:10 to Yuma” between the tension the film desires and what actually manages to come across on screen. It’s a psychologically-slanted western, a remake of a 1957 classic starring Glenn Ford (itself based on a short story by Elmore Leonard), and comes thundering to the screen with amazing acting pedigree, top shelf production talent, and a director fresh off the biggest hit of his career. Yet, “Yuma” is a snoozy picture, more content to brood its way to the middle than double-fist some six-guns and raise hell as it pores through the minds of conflicted men facing their destiny.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a Civil War vet lost in debt, struggling to keep his farm afloat and his family comfortable (including Gretchen Mol). When the offer to escort master criminal Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to jail is offered, Dan takes the job, finding on the journey through Arizona that the two men share an odd mutual respect; for Dan, the ride is a shot at redeeming his damaged reputation, while Ben contemplates the nature of his evil. On their trail is Ben’s vicious gang of criminals, led by Charlie (Ben Foster, “X-Men: The Last Stand”), who hope to spring their boss and ride to freedom.

It’s not that director James Mangold doesn’t have the passion for the project, but more that he doesn’t hold the raw nerve to shade material like “Yuma” to satisfactory ends. Coming off his Johnny Cash bio-pic “Walk the Line,” the director seems emboldened by his previous portrait of American mythmaking enough to try a classical western on for size.

The details are all accounted for: the pickled swagger of the gunmen, the unrepentant chin music, the clippity-clop of the horses, the braaang! of the bullets…yet “Yuma” is not a tale of crude heroism in the traditional sense; it’s study of two conflicting ideologies, with Dan and Ben learning to appreciate each other and the sticky situation they’re in. It’s is a fascinating tug of war, I just never felt the critical pull of conscience the story should have had in spades. Mangold has created more of an oater version of “My Dinner with Andre,” settling on bland patches of dialogue to further the characters’ consideration, instead of the soulful searching a more refined filmmaker would’ve pursued. One can clearly see the anguished intent, but it lays there cold and lifeless, constipating tremendous actors who justifiably work hard to cut the screen deep.

Putting Crowe and Bale in the same frame together is asking for trouble, since both actors are enormously versatile, but also share a deep appreciation for restraint. Much of “Yuma” is a staring contest between these two men, so Mangold employs Ben Foster to punch up the film as right-hand-man Charlie.

If you’ve never heard of Foster before, pat yourself on the back. This method-abusing young actor adores his idiosyncratic touches, and he loves to play at the highest decibel level. Foster turns Charlie into a homicidal dandy: the gunslinger treats the southwestern desert as his own personal modeling runway, and flicks on every afterburner of indication he’s packed in his pockets to keep the camera glued on him. Foster makes Bale and Crowe look like George Romero extras by comparison, and that isn’t a good thing for a film as dependent on metered emoting as this is.

Another element that annoyed me during the feature was the absence of scope. “Yuma” is a claustrophobic thriller, intended to be a confining experience. However, Mangold seems to check every other western tradition off his list, why not an appreciation for the environment? The picture barely pays mind to nature and the brutal elements, instead staying in constant close-up with the actors. Mangold’s tight focus also monkeys with the film’s spatial relationships. All too often the action will become a bewildering blur of staging rather than an enthralling construct of violence, increasing the already nagging chorus of logic gaps that do their best to undermine the film.

As “3:10 to Yuma” starts to make a run for the ultimate showdown, I was amazed to feel so numb to it all. This is not a dramatic endeavor that invites participation, merely silent observation. I wish the goods contained within this hard-boiled western were worth such careful inspection.

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originally posted: 09/07/07 14:56:41
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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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