Reviews here on the Life of Ando are usually reserved for Wednesdays, but I just finished watching 3:10 to Yuma and liked it so much I decided to write about it.
I loved this movie. From the very outset I was on the edge of my seat and never relaxed until it was over two hours and two minutes later. Incredible film. Yes, FILM. The plot is pretty simple. Down on his luck but honorable rancher Dan Evans, played by Christian Bale, stumbles onto a stagecoach holdup by a gang led by the notorious Ben Wade, played with deliciously sinister delight by Russel Crowe. Through a turn of semi-related events, Evans finds himself volunteering for a posse to take the just captured Wade to the train depot and the 3:10 train bound for Yuma and prison, all for the sum of $200. Wild west adventures ensue.
What sets the picture apart is the relationship of Evans, the honest, but unsuccesful rancher family man, desperately trying to provide for his family, even to the point of risking his life, and Wade, the dastardly black hat who apparently feels nothing at the taking of a human life, and relishes in it. The money he makes in an afternoon’s hijack, is scads more than Evans has made in three years on his dying ranch. So desperate is Evans that he stands up to Wade in a way that nobody has before and lived to tell about it. Those who know Wade don’t mess with him, and those who don’t never get the chance to correct their mistake. But Evans needs the money and his sense of honor is so strong he stubbornly presses on toward the depot despite attacks from Apaches, rogue railroad men, and even Wade himself. He defies Wade as no one else has and a strange and unlikely bond developes between the two men.
This movie is really part western and part psychological thriller, as the game between Evans and Wade fleshes itself out in several pieces of dialog between the two. Bale and Crowe are so good in these roles, in these classic American movie roles, that you forget that one is Welsh and the other is an Aussie. Crowe especially is so good, as he plays mind games with each member of the posse, getting inside their heads, making them doubt themselves and if they can accomplish their mission. Then again, Bale, after playing such a brooding and cocksure Batman/Bruce Wayne, is totally convincing as a proud and honorable but wounded man, trying to keep his family safe from starvation, rogues, and crooked landlords. His oldest son doesn’t believe in him and is drawn to Wades daring and swagger. It cuts Evans so deep you can see it in his eyes. Just two brilliant performances.
There are some good supporting roles also. Peter Fonda as the grizzled Pinkerton detective, and actually looking much better than he did in that Time-Life informercial, and Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Wade’s brash right-hand man are particularly good. The photography was great, with sweeping Arizona vistas of rock formations and bright blue skies with white pillowy skies. Shades of John Ford. The movie also had a pretty subtle, but powerful soundtrack, which at times sounded Morricone-esque. I guess if you’re going to make a western, borrowing a few things from Ford and Morricone is a good place to start
Usually it takes me a couple viewings to really love a movie, but this one grabbed me right away and will definitely be going in the library. It is rated R for some language and strong violence.