3:10 to yuma (2007)

by zEke

10 to yuma posterOnce again, a remake. 3:10 to yuma (1957) was an interesting western, forgotten by many, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard, who is also behind the novels that gave rise to get shorty (1995), jackie brown (1997), and out of sight (1998). His writing is both daringly realistic and full of strong dialog. He is the kind of writer that goes right to the point leaving out, according to him, the parts that readers skip. And, somehow, that essence is present in some of the movies made after his work. It was, back in 1957, and it is now, although, of course, in order to take advantage of it, 3:10 to yuma needed an update.

Update that, after almost two hours, is specially evident towards the end. Some will love it, some will hate it, and I will not say much about it, other than it is probably one of the more absurd endings I have recently seen. And, however, I am still able to understand those who will love its absurdity, and will not get in an argument with them.

Outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is arrested after spending with a woman more time than he should have, rather than getting away with his gang. Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a poor rancher and Civil War veteran who is no hero for his kids, accepts to escort Wade to a prison train to Yuma for a reward that would make his life easier. That after being around Wade during both his last rob and flirt. From there on, everything is pretty straightforward. Wade’s gang will try to liberate him while Evans and a few unexperienced gunmen, including his teenager son, will try to make it to Contention and put him in the train to Yuma.

Both, Crowe and Bale, although they spend most of the time mumbling, are the best of the movie. Their psychological dialectic war works, and it does because of Wade’s humorous cynicism and Evans unpretentious charm, and because Crowe and Bale, despite of some gaps in the script, make their characters quite believable. If not better than Glen Ford and Van Heflin (Wade and Evans respectively in the original), definitely more appealing. The rest of the cast are good enough, some of them mumble, some of them do not, but none of them hurt.

The movie gets down to work right away, and James Mangold serves in this, his first movie since walk the line (2005), a fast paced western that does not get distracted from his main goal, which in the end turns to be nothing else but entertain. Nevertheless, that might be too little for such an ambitious project. The balance always inclines towards entertainment, and a priori interesting subplots, such as the particular relationship between Evans and his teenager son, or the unavoidable redemption of the characters, are always on the other side, the light one, of the balance.

3:10 to yuma fails at improving the original western but it is still able to succeed at updating it for these days audiences. Following its considerable success in the box office, one might expect a new wave of Western air in the near future, as it happens every single time one works well, to take an obvious example, the assassination of jesse james by the coward robert ford (2007) is already here.

For the deadhours of those with children that do not look after them.

deadrate: δair

official site | imdb

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