The film begins by introducing Ben Wade, a notorious outlaw and Dan Evans a rancher who after a drought is struggling to sustain his family. In order to make some money Dan offers to help take Wade to Yuma, where he will be imprisoned and hanged. At first glance there is no reason why these two should have anything in common and far less get along. As the film develops the bond between the two men transforms from one of adversaries to one of camaraderie.
James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma is a remake of the 1957 film of the same title and an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s short story. Unlike other remakes done in resent years, 3:10 to Yuma is exceptionally well executed. Mangold is able to bring back the almost lost art of true western storytelling, those that involve lost, conscious, and injured souls and hearts. The performances in this film are beautifully played and the cinematography is altogether breathtaking.
Russell Crowe gives another great performance as Ben Wade. Though he portrays a cold hearted outlaw, Crowe demonstrate a range of different emotions that make his performance feel more authentic; because of this the audience is able to have a better understanding of who Wade really is. He is able to give a glimpse of more vulnerable, smart, and unpredictable but seldom seen side of him. Christian Bale like Russell Crowe delivers a brilliant and versatile performance as a rancher who in desperation risks his life to sustain his family and in the process ends up becoming a hero. Bale is probably one of the most versatile actors of his generation and in this film he shows us why. He portrays a noble but broken man (physically and emotionally) who after being stepped on for so long wants to change the way he is perceived by his kids and his wife. Instead of pitting Dan one begins to admire the risks and resilience to finish what he set out to do. Another standout performance is Peter Fonda’s who plays Byron McElroy a bounty hunter who is trying to capture the notorious Ben Wade. Though McElroy hunts outlaws for a living his actions are worst than even those of Wade. Gretchen Mol, Ben Foster and Logan Lerman also give respectable performances and defiantly hold their own in a cast of well established actors. Lerman and Foster’s performances are especially standouts. Lerman is able to show range in his acting and his talent seems to be emerging. Foster’s performance is memorable as the menacing Charlie Prince, the second in command in Wade’s gang, who seems to admire, respect, and even love Wade unfortunately for him Wade doesn’t share the same admiration for him.
The cinematography in the film is as beautiful as the performances. Though it is breathtaking it doesn’t overshadow the storyline or performances but instead sets the mood for every scene. The picturesque cinematography captures the beauty as well as the fierceness of the west.
Overall the film is well done, from the storyline, cinematography, to the performances. Mangold brings back the idea of what westerns should be about. He creates a film that revives the western and the performances and directing bring something new to the genre.
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Weak: 1 Star Average: 2 Stars Good: 3 Stars Very Good: 4 Stars Excellent: 5 Stars