3:10 to Yuma review, 3:10 to Yuma DVD review
Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Alan Tudyk, Logan Lerman
James Mangold
3:10 to Yuma

Reviewed by Jason Zingale


esterns have never had much mainstream appeal – even when Clint Eastwood was directing them – but if there was ever a chance one might experience commercial success, it will likely be “3:10 to Yuma,” a loose remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford classic starring two of the best actors in the business and helmed by the director of “Walk the Line.” If that doesn’t get people into seats, I don’t know what will, but consider Lionsgate lucky for adding such an impressive project to their very unimpressive roster. Clearly taking advantage of the stigma that Westerns don’t perform well at the box office, the studio best known for producing “Saw” might finally get the critical recognition they’ve been looking for come awards time.

For those who haven’t seen the original film (myself included), the story is simple. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is an Arizona rancher with a world of problems. He’s got a bum leg from the war, his cattle are suffering from the drought, he’s in debt to a man looking to sell his land to the railroads, and his 14-year-old son (Logan Lerman) doesn’t respect him. Evans is given an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, however, when he witnesses the capture of Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), an infamous outlaw responsible for stealing over $400,000 in Pinkerton money and killing several along the way. Hoping to prolong the inevitable by earning some extra cash, Evans agrees to escort the prisoner – along with a Pinkerton (Dallas Roberts), a surly bounty hunter (Peter Fonda) and a veterinarian (Alan Tudyk) – to the town of Contention where Wade will board the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Considered a suicide mission by many, the odds are slimmed considerably with Wade’s posse – led by his lunatic right-hand man, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) – hot on their trail.

“3:10 to Yuma” is a performance film in every sense of the word. With the exception of a few gunfights and the occasional explosion, the real draw of the story comes from the interaction between its characters; namely Evans and Wade, who have an unspoken understanding of one another that isn’t completely revealed until the film’s conclusion. As a result, the movie lives and dies by the performances of its two leads, and Crowe and Bale deliver exactly as you’d expect. The actors are perfectly cast in their respective roles, and as they clash throughout the course of the film, it’s interesting to watch as their relationship matures. The duo isn’t without help, and although supporting turns by Fonda, Tudyk and Roberts are certainly noteworthy, it’s Ben Foster who steals the show as the psychotic outlaw. Foster is no stranger to playing the heavy (see “Alpha Dog” for a different take on the role), but he commands your attention with every twitch of the eye and devilish grin.

Director James Mangold’s decision to tack on an additional 25 minutes to the story was a brave one, because although the film doesn’t have any major pacing issues, it suffers from an overexposure of the driving conflict between its stars. As such, when the two men arrive in Contention for the final act, the dynamic isn’t nearly as effective as it would be had the journey not been stretched so long. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny a good Western when you see one, and though “3:10 to Yuma” will have plenty of obstacles to hurdle, it’s an experience unlike any other this year.

Single-Disc DVD Review:

“3:10 to Yuma” was probably never going to have a real shot at this year’s awards shows, but it’s still a damn good film, and fans will be disappointed to see the lack of attention given to its DVD release. With the exception of an audio commentary by director James Mangold and a 20-minute making-of featurette (“Destination Yuma”), the single-disc effort is a complete washout. The included eight-odd minutes of deleted scenes fail in delivering anything noteworthy, while the History Channel-esque “Outlaws, Gangs & Posses” will only interest Western enthusiasts.

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