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  3:10 to Yuma

Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Alan Tudyk, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol

Directed by: James Mangold

Produced by: Cathy Conrad, James Mangold

Written by: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas

Distributor: Lionsgate


     James Mangold’s poetic 3:10 to Yuma may be a signal of the second-coming of the American Western. One could make the case that Kevin Costner’s 2003 effort, Open Range, paved the way, but that yippee-kay-yay-hollerin' picture seems like a children’s film when compared to this thoroughly uncompromising one. In a manner that audiences haven’t seen since the work of Peckinpah, Mangold brings the viewer into an elusive world where the men are strong and committed to their cause, the women supportive, the heroes noble, and the villains deceptively evil. Set amongst sweeping vistas, 3:10 to Yuma is as naturally beautiful as its action is unrelentingly violent. The picture achieves a quality that few films do nowadays: it creates its own immersive realm of existence. Because of this skillful characteristic, director Mangold’s deft hand is able to keep a tight grasp over the viewer’s emotions, thoroughly engrossing them in the morality-driven events offered by his picture’s plot.

     3:10 to Yuma takes off as outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his team of famous bandits rob a stagecoach in a small Arizonan town. Later settling down to a drink in the local saloon to celebrate the success of their crime, Wade finds himself enraptured by the seductive bartender. He takes her upstairs to make love, which leads to him overstaying his welcome in the town and getting captured by local law-enforcement. Instead of killing Wade on the spot, the group of enforcers decides to turn him into the federal government. Because of this decision, they must rally a band of men to dangerously escort him to a 3:10 train headed for Yuma Federal Penitentiary. With the promise of a $200 payout and the ability to rid himself of an existing grudge against Wade for temporarily stealing his cattle motivating him, prominent among these men is failed rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale). The road to the train-stop proves grueling as Wade struggles with his captors and his team of bandits continuously edges closer to rescuing him, but Evans soon begins to protect the mission not only as a means to make money and seek revenge, but also as a moral crusade.

     Supported by Mangold’s handsome sense of timing and knack for staging scenes, Bale and Crowe steal the show in the lead roles, both fully engrossed in their characters and reveling in the devious interplay between them. Despite the fact that the movie wonderfully takes to the old-fashioned conventions of the Western, it proves truly memorable due to its ability to craft two complex main characters under said conventions. Bale and Crowe work to develop a strong degree of nuance in Wade and Evans, never losing sight of the humanity of their characters when pitting them in genre-typical good-versus-evil situations. The same could be said of the whole of 3:10 to Yuma: it offers a fresh and exciting take on an always-welcome formula. Consumed by its richly conceived setting, this rugged and moving film is one of the year’s best.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 9.1.2007

Screened on: 9.1.2007 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


3:10 to Yuma is rated R and runs 117 minutes.

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