3:10 to Yuma (2007)
3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Genre: Western Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Release Date: September 7th, 2007 MPAA Rating: R

Director: James Mangold Actors: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Logan Lerman, Gretchen Mol, Alan Tudyk, Vinessa Shaw, Peter Fonda, Dallas Roberts

 


 

J

ames Mangold’s re-envisioning of the classic “3:10 to Yuma” is a moderate success, considering that few audiences will remember the original and contemporary viewers aren’t likely to flock to the appeal of a Western. While it receives an undeniable update in crisp dialogue, bloody violence, and breathtaking action, it does manage to retain several elements from the previous adaptation of the Elmore Leonard short story. It’s a different brand and a different breed, but even the 1957 version was not a conventional Western during its time. With plenty of star power, excellent acting, and a snazzy score, this shiny new “3:10 to Yuma” proves that this genre may not be entirely dead for moviegoers of 2007.

Life has dealt a bad hand to Dan Evans (Christian Bale), but he makes the most of it as a simple rancher with his wife Alice (Gretchen Mol). When he accidentally witnesses the robbery of a stagecoach at the hands of notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), his life becomes unexpectedly intertwined with the calculating criminal. When the law catches up with Wade, Dan is recruited to escort him to the afternoon train, which will take the prisoner to Yuma to await his trial. But Wade’s cutthroat gang is out to set their leader free, putting Evans directly in the path of plenty of bullets – and more – if he hopes to complete his mission alive.

As a Western, “3:10 to Yuma” brings back the familiar blazing sun, barren deserts, and sweaty action in the “spaghetti” vein, but introduces a more stylized, serious, and violent tone than what was seen before. Reminiscent of recent takes on the genre (neo-Westerns) such as “Unforgiven” or “The Proposition,” it utilizes a setting and mise en scéne – more than anything else – to emulate its particular feel. It is foremost a character study, wherein the lines between good and evil tread very closely, allowing the cool, composed villain an opportunity to shed his denotation as a straight criminal during every other scene.

The basic plot – Old West environment or not – is an amusing choice to reintroduce to audiences, since most viewers will be unfamiliar with the 1957 adaptation. It’s a story so character driven that it thrives on performances; advances in technology won’t overly influence its effectiveness, nor will rehashing underlying plots. Though it might be practically untranslatable without the expected realism of today (as in drenching audiences with explosive, full-color, thrilling, harsher, and more vibrant adventure), the acting still takes precedence. Sharing an uncommon respect and, perhaps, admiration, Evans and Wade appear almost like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with equal parts rivalry and partnership. Supporting them is Ben Foster as the convincingly evil Charlie Prince and Peter Fonda as Byron McElroy, a weathered bounty hunter who snags all the most acerbic lines in the film. Further featuring an impressive score by Marco Beltrami and sharp cinematography by Phedon Papamichael (“Walk the Line” and “Sideways”), the production is a sturdy (but decidedly not superior) remake, even if an adjustment of the conclusion seemed necessary to appease the modest percentage of patrons who might otherwise predict the outcome.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10