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I saw this film last night at a preview in the lead up to the Toronto
International Film Festival. Having never been a big western fan (with
a few exceptions - Shane, High Noon, The Wild Bunch) and having been
rather indifferent to Walking The Line, James Mangold's last
directorial effort, my expectations were modest, despite the hype that
the film has received. But I was duly impressed. The action and tension
remain constant throughout but, more importantly, the plot is
compelling and the acting is terrific. No doubt many will be impressed
by Ben Foster's affected performance as Russell Crowe's loyal but
psychopathic sidekick (think Johnny Depp in the Pirate movies) but to
my taste it was much too over the top in a cast that offered a number
of subtle and well thought out performances.
Russell Crowe is brilliant as the arrogant, amoral outlaw Ben Wade and Christian Bales infuses his role as a beleaguered rancher and Civil War veteran with just the right mix of pathos and dignity. Iy was wonderful to see Peter Fonda be given a role in which he was allowed to demonstrate his genuine talent, much too long hidden away. In my view, though, it is Logan Lerman who most deserves the accolades that will certainly come his way. He plays Bales' teenage son who comes of age in the course of the film. Initially disillusioned with a father whom he sees as drudge and a failure, he eventually recognizes his father as the hero he is (or at least becomes).
Cinematically, this film ranks up there with the best westerns of all time. It is consistently beautiful to watch and captures the expanse and majesty of the American west as well as any movie I've ever seen.
In many respects this is a traditional western (it is a remake, after all). They really don't make movies like this much anymore and it will be interesting to see whether it finds an audience in this era of dumbed down teen comedies and quirky slices of dysfunctional modern life. I wish it well.
"The boys dressed themselves, hid their accoutrements, and went off
grieving that there were no outlaws any more, and wondering what modern
civilization could claim to have done to compensate for their loss.
They said they would rather be outlaws a year in Sherwood Forest than
President of the United States forever." Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom
In 3:10 to Yuma, a few references to The Magnificent Seven and the idea of a train arriving at a specific time when good and bad guys converge, as in High Noon, made viewing this Glenn Ford remake from 1957 a pleasant one. And right I was but for even more good reasons.
Not since Unforgiven and The Quick and the Dead have I been as excited about seeing a Western in its heroic and revisionist forms. 3:10 to Yuma is a true Western in the American film tradition about the 19th-century American West: It has clear heroes and villains (and a mixture of those), wide prairies, dirty towns, fast guns, weak lawmen, cunning murderers, kids on the cusp, and women marginalized, just for starters.
Then ratchet up to the philosophical/post modern/post Eastwood reflections on the profession of being a gunman juxtaposed with being a responsible father, and you have an classic angst-filled clash where villain has a wee bit of heart and hero an equal measure of cowardice. Delightfully mix in a certifiable baddie in the Lee Van Cleef/Jack Palance tradition, Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) as Wade's amoral lieutenant Charlie Prince (as in "of darkness"). Best of all, it is nail-bitingly suspenseful and beautifully photographed.
In order to pickup some home-saving cash, poor crippled farmer Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is helping transport murderer Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to court via the 3:10 to Yuma from Bisbee, Arizona. Getting Wade to the station is no easy task, even for the several deputies, because Wade's evil gang is in hot pursuit and more importantly, Wade is psychologically working on them from within, alternately charming and brutal; just imagine his roguish smile behind an extremely fast gun and unscrupulous conscience.
It's hard to believe a studio could dump such a winner in the dog days of summer. I will say only that if you have even a modicum of respect for this genre, see 3:10 to Yuma and relive the golden days of straight-up shoot-em ups with rough-hewn characters, electric plot, and revisionist attitude about the romance of being an outlaw or a farmer. Get there on time because that movie train goes fast from the get go.
It's one of the best westerns and best all-around movies I've seen in a
long time. That's largely due to the outstanding performances by the
cast, ably led by the alpha male, bad guy, Russell Crowe. His
protagonist is Christian Bale who turns in a nuanced performance as the
down-on-his luck rancher. The scenes between these two men are riveting
and a display of acting at its best. The supporting cast are all
wonderful and in particular, Ben Foster, Fonda and Logan Lerman as
Bale's oldest son.
The action is virtually non-stop which makes for a compelling, exciting story. But what really drew me in were the stellar performances, particularly that of Crowe. He is the bad guy you actually might end up rooting for. He goes from charming to deadly and back again all in the blink of an eye. He carries the film on his very able shoulders, but Bale gives him a good run for his money in the acting department.
This is one movie that any lover of westerns or anyone simply longing for a good movie with good acting will not want to miss. The two hours will go by in the blink of an eye and you'll be wishing there was more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to think that I am so out of step with the masses. What can others be seeing that I missed. I will say that in the restroom after the movie the other women were laughing at the movie and shaking their heads in disbelief of the hype. There will be many spoilers below. First of all, the acting was fine...that's about all the good I could see. The screen play was illogical. Why would Russell Crow's character continually miss opportunities to escape and the good guys continually miss opportunities to kill the bad guys? Why would they sit around a roaring fire in Apache territory and why wouldn't the Apaches just kill them as they most certainly would have? Why would Russell Crow's character kill all his guys who risked life and limb for him? Why would the writer put a stupid schtick in a chase scene where one character throws an explosive and another character shoots the explosive in mid air while riding full out on a horse? Why would the mine team just stand there and wait to be shot by men they knew to be psycho killers? Why would Russell Crow risk his life jumping over roofs just trying to get to the train? Why would the good guys miss the opportunity to shoot the bad guys in the street with a perfect shot from the bridal suite? How did Peter Fonda recover completely in a 24 hour period after being gut shot? How did Russell Crow's mouth heal completely after being beaten unmercifully by Peter Fonda? Why was Russell Crow's hands handcuffed in front and not in the back? I could go on and on, but I've already wasted enough time and money on this complete mess of a movie.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's a scene near the end where Christian Bale is clearing the air,
so to speak, between himself and Russel Crowe's character, that
suddenly made clear to me what the entire film was about. It also
dawned on me that Bale is a bit like this generation's Gregory Peck,
only better. He seems able to explore other ways of being on screen
without losing sight of reality. That's quite a trick, and key in this
film, as it's really all about his character, Dan Evans, a struggling
ex-soldier with a family and a marginal farm to take care of.
Courage is the central preoccupation of this film, so it's more than welcome to see it in the film's production as well. There's a sensibility for weapons, dirt, wagons, injuries, even clothing of the period, on display here that's more than just admirable. It makes you wonder why old westerns didn't explore these elements more thoroughly, though I suppose it had to do with expense. But in having spared that expense these older flicks also failed to pull off the kind of true to life drama that this movie manages to delve into.
I also enjoyed the interaction between Crowe, Bale, and his teenage son, William. Though the focus is constantly moving, including generous episodes with a wonderfully nuanced badman played by Ben Foster and some quality time with Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol, most of the story is in what happens between the ex-soldier, his son, and Crowe's gang leader, Ben Wade. Talk about art imitating life, Crowe is pretty much flawless as the intelligent but amoral Wade.
Don't expect a conventional ending. Think about it after you've exited the theater. Aren't we all a mix of good and bad?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Here is an undeniable truth of movie reviewers: When you really want to
promote a movie that's not that good, talk about the great performances
of the actors. Then you can praise the movie to high heaven, feel you
have done your penance, and content yourself with the ingenuity of your
expansive insights. This is the case with 3:10 to Yuma.
So, what's wrong with this movie? Well, let's just look at the last 20 or so minutes of the film:
1. Apparently the bartender/hotel clerk in Contention, AZ, whom we've not been introduced to until this point in the movie, is in cahoots with the bad guys because he make a point of surreptitiously and eagerly directing the bad guys to the location of the incarcerated Mr. Crowe. Why does he do this? Who knows. The filmmaker never lets us in on the secret.
2. Apparently the Neanderthal menfolk of Contention, AZ, are a simple-minded lot who, at the thought of earning $200.00 by murdering the the folks holding murderous Russell Crowe in custody, just can't wait to start throwing lead. "Mabel, Whar's mah raffle? Ahm gonna keel me sum law-men an geet myselves $200.00 dollah cash on that thar barrelhead!"
3. Apparently no one in Contention has a problem with watching their unarmed police force viciously gunned down in broad daylight. After this atrocity, folks continue to wander the streets, go in and out of stores, and continue their daily lives as though nothing has happened. Except for, of course, the menfolk who are hiding in wait for a chance to earn that $200.00.
4. Apparently no one bothers to theorize that when you are firing dozens of rounds of ammunition at two men who are as close together as they can be without being Siamese twins you just might hit the guy you're trying to rescue.
5. Apparently, when Russell Crowe's psychotic gunslinging hero-worshiping gang member finally realizes the implications of the above, he figures he better start shootin' them menfolk he'd promised that thar munny to. Of course, none of the surviving menfolk think to start shooting at him.
6. Apparently--well, you get the idea. In other words, this excuse for movie-making is, quite frankly, stupid! In order to take this seriously, you must convince yourself that the type of behavior exhibited by many of the characters in this film is the way people really act. Whether it be the above examples, or Peter Fonda being shot in the stomach, at close range, having the bullet removed, and then immediately riding out into the desert on horseback as though nothing had ever happened to him, much of this film is just plain ludicrous! By the way, I'm no gun expert, but I do know this: If you are shot in the stomach at close range you ain't gonna be going' nowhere and you certainly ain't gonna be trottin' around on a horse!
The bigger problem with this movie is its message, which is this: People who do the right thing because it's the right thing to do are fools. Good people don't thrive. As Christian Bale says, "I've been asking God to help me for three years and he hasn't done it yet." For those who would attempt to live a righteous, honorable life there is nothing but despair and hopelessness. In fact, at the end of the movie the true hero of the piece is the psychopathic, vicious, murdering Russell Crowe character. And, by the way, this film does NOT retain the ending of the original, so if you were hoping it would, forget about that.
If you see this film, you might recognize material from other Westerns. You have an iron clad stagecoach, reminiscent of John Wayne's "War Wagon," quotes from the Bible, reminiscent of Randolph Scott in "Ride the High Country," the psychological bantering between the Crowe and Christian Bale characters, reminiscent of not only "Ride the High Country" but also of "The Tall T", an Elmore Leonard story with Randolph Scott and Richard Boone, and Christian Bales's cursing teenage son, reminiscent of Ron Howard in John Wayne's "The Shootist."
Your better bets: All of the other movies I named above plus the original with Glen Ford and Van Heflin.
Just saw a screening of this movie in New York. Amazing. Bale continues to prove that he is quickly becoming one of the best lead actors out there. Crowe exudes cool throughout the movie as a heartless, smooth talking, Bible quoting killer. Of course...Ben Foster. Yes. Ben Foster. Welcome him to the bigtime, cause he made this movie. There hasn't been a western with a character so badass as the one Ben Foster plays in this movie. Story-wise, the movie is an opposite Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, with the good guys trying to run away from the bad guys in order to make a 3:10 train to Yuma. What ensues is an awesome movie you wanna watch till the last battle.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Okay, first why steal the title from a classic western if not just to
yank a few more bucks from their clients (us) when the so-called remake
is butchered beyond belief. This effort should have been a standalone
production just so it wouldn't drag down another production with it.
The main character played by Crow is quite happy to murder law enforcement and his own gang members with nothing shorter than that of a psychopath yet fluctuates back and forth in wanting to help and feel sorry for his captor and son. I won't waste time repeating a lot of the films other irregularities, but that run through town with the citizens and gang now trying to kill them, I mean let's get real. Was it a town policy only to sell guns to blind people? And were the town people who were after the money, who knew every nook and cranny of their tiny town, just terminally stupid as well?
As for the last scene - total in its absolute ridiculousness. Crow was a psychopath. Someone unable to empathize with any worth extended to others, so what's with the aw shucks I guess he's not so bad after all when he's been murdering those after him and his own gang all throughout the whole story.
I could go on, but I'll leave it with this. If this is the best the studios can do with Westerns then they should forget about making them. This movie wasn't even worth the time wasted making or watching it even if you got to watch it for free. I like the main actors, I like Westerns, but the potential for quality that these things offered was absolutely absent here.
Being a fan of westerns from a young age, I really wanted to like this
movie and I did. I just didn't love it because of a few too many plot
holes and inconsistencies. If you are willing to suspend belief and
enjoy the ride, it is a very satisfying movie filled with action,
suspense and terrific acting showcasing the intricacies of complicated
As most westerns ultimately are, this was a movie about the measure of a man. When faced with extraordinary circumstances how far will a man go to do the right thing and what price separates good and evil. It is a story of youth with a riveting performance by a young Logan Lerman as a rancher's son who doubts his father's worth and struggles to come to terms with his expectations of what makes a man great and who he will idolize. Being a fan of the TV series Jack and Bobby, it was great seeing Logan again and enjoying his work. He gives a sensitive, nuanced performance and holds his own against some powerhouse acting from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.
Russell is the perfect actor to play Ben Wade bringing a depth and humanity to a character who is established early on as a dangerous, ruthless outlaw. There are indications from the start that Ben isn't your standard villain, and Russell does a great job at showing the shadings in this character while maintaining the threatening nature of Ben Wade. There is a hint of gentleness and sensitivity and even though you suspect childhood damage might have produced a man capable of such evil, you never doubt the viciousness this character is capable of.
Christian Bale turns in another intricate portrayal as the rancher, Dan Evans. Slowly the layers and truths of Dan are revealed until he is laid bare, with all his regrets and failings threatening to define him. As a man trying to provide for his family and gain the respect of his older son, he gives a captivating performance as an average man struggling to do what is right while faced with overwhelming obstacles.
The interaction between these two fine actors and how their characters end up on the continuum between good and evil is the focus of the movie. 3:10 to Yuma is an interesting merging between the old-fashioned westerns of long ago and the new psychological metaphors of modern movie-making. There are lots of dead bodies littering up the landscape, but the blood and guts movie style of Peckinpah is thankfully missing and we are left with a character study wrapped up in an action, chase flick.
Peter Fonda has a wonderful role as a grizzled old bounty hunter and even though I knew he was in the movie it took me forever to recognize him. I kept thinking the character reminded me of Richard Widmark, but perhaps there was a touch of Henry in there too. Alan Tudyk has a nice turn as a quirky doctor and Ben Foster is mesmerizing as the big bad sidekick of Ben Wade. Many will think Ben goes overboard on the characterization, but it was difficult to not watch him as the crazy, vicious killer, Charlie Prince. I think he held back just enough to make the character believable, in an intensely crazed, vicious old-west world.
Ultimately the bad guys were more believable to me than the good guys. There were several instances where I wanted to yell at the screen and tell the good guys they were doomed because of their inept actions, but perhaps they just haven't seen as many westerns as I have and didn't realize these bad guys were truly vicious animals and no mercy would be offered.
Towards the end is when the stretches of believability most disturbed me and the movie lost some of its sheen. I just didn't buy all the contrivances they threw at me and for me, that made the ending less than satisfying. My sister, on the other hand, loved the ending and was actually crying, but don't let the crying scare you off. She tends to get overly emotional when she buys into the story and she had no problem suspending belief and taking the ride they offered.
If you love westerns as I do, then you owe it to yourself to support this western at the theater in hopes the box office receipts will encourage more westerns to be produced. If you enjoy great acting and character development and the wider framework of what makes a man a hero and what forces drive a man to despair then this movie provides ample fuel for further discussion.
3:10 to Yuma could have been a great movie if they would have cleaned up some of the plot holes and reined in the ending, but all in all, it was a nice time at the movies and it certainly offered up some lively discussion afterward. The entire cast was stunningly good, the movie was beautifully photographed and the direction kept it moving at a good pace with no lulls or boring moments.
It offers a glance back at the old-time westerns with a few nice improvements. Even if you don't normally appreciate westerns, the acting and action should be enough to make the time spent enjoyable. And if you never appreciated westerns before then maybe it will be enough to make you want to check out some of the greats like High Noon and The Searchers. Westerns have always been a fertile ground for examining the complexities of man, what makes a man great, and the shades of gray that resides in all of us.
Just saw the first preview for this, and it was absolutely awesome. Most incredible was in a cast including Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, Ben Foster turned out a mesmerizing performance. He owned the screen in every scene he had. I think this is the beginning of a long and illustrious leading man career for him. The movie was well paced with great music and a hint of humor here and there. I loved this thing from start to finish. It was a taught and thoroughly entertaining film. If you like westerns you'll love this. Christian Bale continues to impress me in every role hes in. He is terrific. The directing is masterful, I really enjoyed this, real action packed. I'm glad I didn't have to wait 4 more months to see this.
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