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3:10 TO YUMA

SYNOPSIS:
The legendary outlaw, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his gang have just robbed an armed stage coach carrying the Southern Pacific Railroads payroll. They kill everyone onboard except the Pinkerton security guard, Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) whom Wade shoots in the belly. Poor rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and his two sons find McElroy and take him to Bisbee, Arizona to find a doctor. Wade, in town without his gang, is captured. Railroad representative Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) asks for paid volunteers to join the posse to take Wade to the train station in the town of Contention three days away. The train is due at 3:10, and they must put Wade on the train's prison car bound for Yuma, where he will receive a quick trial in Federal Court and be hanged. Evans, desperately needing money to save his farm, signs on for $200. But Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), Wade's right hand man, sees what has happened to Wade, and goes after the rest of the gang to help liberate Wade. Evan's desire to redeem himself in the eyes of his sons and to get Wade on the train turns it into a battle for Evans' honour and self respect, which in turn affects Wade.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
People usually talk about the Western genre these days in the past tense, debating whether a handful of new films with that genre's sensibilities are the sign of a comeback. What 3:10 To Yuma does is to remind us that good examples of the genre made it popular because like any other genre they dealt with the basics of the human condition in an approachable way - yet with an exotic, romanticised tone. What any good film has to do is to grab us by our emotional lapels, as well as perhaps challenge our intellect, and take us into the heart of man.

James Mangold's reworking of the 1957 classic (with Glenn Ford as Ben Wade and Van Heflin as Dan Evans) is relevant to our times for the same reasons that it was relevant then. We get to consider the possibility that a man can redeem not only himself but someone much lower in the moral rankings, by example. It's a story we'll never get tired of, and Mangold gives this old horse a new mane with today's moviemaking sensibilities. Like most stories about the human condition, we should be ready to hear them again and again.

Casting Russell Crowe as Wade and Christian Bale as Evans delivers 80% of the film's powder keg, and the rest of the casting does most of the rest. Bale brings a depth to Dan Evans that draws us to his many pains, while Crowe edges his Ben Wade in a black frame that remains intact even in the moment of recognition that Dan's courage is worth his respect. Not much else in the world had earned that.

The story is dynamically told with a great score from Marco Beltrami (incorporating a musical phrase that has the faintest melancholy echoes of Rodrigo's classic Concerto de Aranjuez) and unfussy cinematic style that takes us right into the characters and the places. But the film is true to its genre as a Western with gunfights, horses and chases, even Indians and the railroad pushing West, at once improving and destroying all in its path. It's worth seeing both versions.

(Alert trivia buffs will note that in the credits, crew such as hairstylists, dialect coach, set costumer, stunts and body doubles for Russell Crowe are billed as hairstylists, stunt, body doubles etc for Ben Wade.)

Review by Louise Keller:
Russell Crowe is splendid as the notorious outlaw Ben Wade, who is not all bad, as 14 year old William (Logan Leman) points out half way through the film. Cinematic and wonderful to watch on the big screen, this magnificent remake revisits the grandeur of the western, as it tosses around elements of morality in the melee of good pitted against evil. Crowe nails the essence of the tough killer who confides he wouldn't last 5 minutes as leader of the outfit if he were not as rotten as hell. But of course, there are shades of admirable integrity buried deep inside the façade; hell is where Christian Bale's struggling rancher Dan Evans has been for three years since he lost a leg, as well as his self-respect and the respect of his wife and family. Opposite Crowe, Bale's Evans exudes a natural decency and the counterpoint between the two tugs us in both directions.

In this remake of the 1957 film, which in turn was based on an Elmore Leonard short story, director James Mangold captures the grandeur and gritty mood of the genre by creating a dramatically engaging drama. We can smell the leather from the horses' bridles, taste the dry dust from the dirt track and sense the loneliness of the barren landscape with its bold boulders and vast vistas. All the while, Marco Beltrami's music delivers a resounding dignity that accentuates the largesse of the themes. Beyond the superficial, this is a story about relationships: the relationship between Wade and Evans, and that of Evans and his impressionable son William. There is much that we learn about them all.

A careful and wily hand has been played in the casting department. Ben Foster is extra good at playing mean: his bad egg Charlie Prince is easy to despise, Peter Fonda is almost unrecognisable as the bounty hunter with no morals and Gretchen Mol is warm as Evan's loyal wife. The film's best moments are scenes in which Evans and Wade exchange intimate thoughts, such as Evans confiding that wishing a man dead and killing him are two different things. In the film's final 15 minutes, the tension escalates, when the time finally comes for the men to head from the Contention hotel to the railway station for the imminent approach of the 3.10 to Yuma. Satisfying in every way, this stunning film delivers the crucial emotional payoff - with finesse.

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3:10 TO YUMA (1957) - DVD REVIEW

A SLY TRIBUTE - FEATURE

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

3:10 TO YUMA (MA)
(US, 2007)

CAST: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda, Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, Vinessa Shaw, Alan Tudyk, Luce Rains, Gretchen Mol, Lennie Loftin, Rio Alexander, Johnny Whitworth, Shawn Howell

PRODUCER: Cathy Konrad

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

SCRIPT: Michael Brandt, Derek Haas (short story by Elmore Leonard)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phedon Papamichael

EDITOR: Michael McCusker

MUSIC: Marco Beltrami

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Menzies

RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Hoyts

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 31, 2008







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