3:10 to Yuma

Hey Brodie Fanns,

I hit up the theatre just once this past weekend. All my money was being focused on a trip to Monday Night RAW in Green Bay. Lots of fun. But like I said. I got to a movie. And here’s the reviw. Enjoy!

3:10 to Yuma

5 Stars

Every so often it seems that someone tries to resurrect the western genre which was once so dominant in American cinema. Most either aren’t that good, or are just homages to the style. But James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma breathes new life into the genre that has yet to find a home in the spectacle laden modern cinema.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a poor Arizona rancher and Civil War vet with a bum foot and debt collectors harassing him. Then he gets a chance at financial redemption when he’s offered $200 ($2500 by today’s standards) to escort noted outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to Contention, AZ to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma (hence the title). Evans, along with a railroad representative (Dallas Roberts), a doctor (Alan Tudyk) and an old timer (Peter Fonda) embark on the journey, with Wade’s men hot on their trail, led by hot head Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). During the trek, Evans and Wade’s relationship changes from one of mutual distrust and dislike to one of mutual respect and admiration.

Bale (American Psycho, Batman Begins) continues to prove that he’s one of the most talented and versatile actors of our generation. There isn’t a single one of his films where he doesn’t completely immerse himself into his character and bring a powerhouse performance to each project he works on. He’s one of the few actors that I will watch anything he’s in, as it’s sure to be one of the better films of the year.

Crowe (Gladiator, Cinderella) plays against type as the antagonist, a pure embodiment of the classic Western outlaw who eventually gains redemption. In recent years he’s played more of the tragic hero, or the good guy type, and seeing him play the flip side is an interesting treat for Crowe fans specifically, movie fans in general.

A movie where it was just these two going back forth with each other would have been good enough, but it’s the supporting cast that really rounds out the emotional impact of the film. Foster (Hostage, Alpha Dog) keeps stealing scenes from his more famous co-stars, and he’s eventually going to make the leap from second fiddle to leading man. Fonda (Easy Rider, The Limey) adds a sense of gravitas to the film, but never overshadows the main characters, keeping the focus on them.

Mangold (Walk the Line, Identity) has always done very interesting character studies for films. And this one is no different. But he’s able to weave the study into the action and macho bravado of the classic western, staying true to the spirit of the only original American cinematic art form, while giving it a modern face-lift to keep up with the style of the times. While he has yet to separate his voice from those of other contemporary directors, he continues to make an impression, and will definitely launch into the rank of A-list directors.

Michael Brandt and Derek Haas’ adaptation of Halsted Welle’s original 1957 screenplay and Elmore Leonard’s short story is somewhat of a coup for the writing team, who have flopped recently with the family spy film Catch that Kid and adrenaline filled sequel 2 Fast, 2 Furious. It just proves that sometimes it takes a few misses to finally make a hit.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the only other western being released this year, Brad Pitt’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and indeed the genre in general. But I think it will only help, as it is clearly one of the stand-out films of the year (as of this writing, there’s still 4 months of films left to see). I’m now looking more and more forward to next year’s The Dark Knight, as Christian Bale is only getting better and more exciting as an actor.

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