- Directed by James Mangold
- August 21, 2007 (Los Angeles) / September 7, 2007 (US)
A battle of wills ensues as an impoverished rancher must hold a dangerous outlaw long enough to get him on a train.
I came into 3:10 to Yuma unfamiliar with the first film adaption of the short story. It’s quite possible I have seen it, but I have no firm memories of it. Either that or this version is so radically different from that version that my memories of this film’s predecessor were never triggered. Watching the True Grit redo my memories of the original were triggered but then again it was so very much like the first even though they never called it a remake. With that out of the way let’s begin…
3:10 to Yuma is a revisionist Western through and through. Like all Westerns of that type every character involved is one shade of shitty or another. From Christian Bale to Russell Crowe there are all kind of terrible people. I have trouble with that because despite my pessimistic nature I am not that down on people.
Speaking of Christian Bale why does he always sound like he has a mouth full of cotton or he’s trying to talk to you after taking a bite of food? I know he’s faking an American accent here but even in his natural speaking voice he still sounds like that. Can anybody explain that to me?
In this movie Christian Bale (a person and not the act of leaving church early) plays one legged Chris Evans who is on hard times because of his evil rancher neighbor and the bank. In a day and age of CGI I do not think we saw a single establishing shot of our rancher with no leg. I kept forgetting about that reality of the character until they reminded me through dialogue. Heck, Evans moves around rather effectively so one can be forgiven for forgetting.
Apparently Evans’s eldest son (Logan Lerman) hates it where they live. That’s the only inference I can come up with because from scene one the kid is just unnecessarily a jerk to his dad. There is no context given to it during the course of the film until towards the end when it appears that the reason the son is upset is because of how his dad lost his leg.
Russell Crowe is violent outlaw Ben Wade and the plot is essentially how the title gets its name from the last third of film where Evans must get Wade to the 3:10 to Yuma which is perpetually late. Wade is dangerous but not anybody you would necessarily be frightened of. He’s charming and a bit of a psychopath. Not to mention at his core he appears to be quite the cynic but a cynic willing to murder is a dangerous combination.
This supporting cast isn’t bad, but none of the characters really grow much. In fact the only character that goes through any kind of change is Ben Wade and I’d say that occurs in the last five or ten minutes of the movie. He interacts with Evans and you can tell he kind of likes the guy as much as he can. Wade’s bit of sacrifice in the end seems to come about because of that liking of Evans.
A battle of wills is occurring in 3:10 to Yuma. It was good to see a villain use psychology and his brain rather than go blindly shooting at others. I give them props here for that. And with that there is a lot of talking in this film. I’m not against talking in movies. Done right it can be just as engaging as any action scene but this is talking but no ambient noise. This may sound a little silly, but it really reminds you that you’re watching a film. It doesn’t help your mind to suspend disbelief. In other words you’re not as involved in the story is if they put in some birds chirping and maybe the sound of wind.
The direction is fine. Mangold handles the actors well and those actors put in strong performances. The problem is the script. It just never reaches a point where you care about what happens to anybody. The end is like “Okay that’s it. Time to move on.” The disposition of those involved fails to really matter to the point you often lose interest. The only thing that keeps you going is the occasional violent outburst by Wade such as when he abruptly kills Tucker (Kevin Durand).
3:10 to Yuma isn’t bad but it needs something to make you at least care about the characters. You don’t need to like them but their fates need to at least matter. All in all this isn’t a terrible Western but it’s not great. I will give this an if you want.