VOD film review: 3:10 to Yuma
James R | On 25, May 2013
Director: James Mangold
Cast: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk
Peter Fonda has been shot by Russell Crowe. That’s the starting point for this remake of the 1957 Western of the same name. Not Russell Crowe, to be exact, but outlaw Ben Wade, a chance for the Oscar-winning Aussie to play the bad guy. When Ben is arrested, the law dictates that he must be put onboard the 3.10 to Yuma, the titular train that takes criminals to the gallows.
Escorted by 5 men, it looks unlikely that Wade’s posse can break him free, especially when Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Bale) joins the group. A discontented rancher determined to pay off his crippling debts, not even an injured leg can deter Dan from doing his duty. For him the equation is simple: catch the train, get the money, and win back the respect of his son, William (Lerman).
Like the original Western, this film is based upon a 1953 short story by Elmore Leonard. Replacing Glenn Ford with Russell, Wade’s dark outfit constantly reminds us that Ben Wade is not a nice man. Juxtaposing Russell’s relaxed swagger is Christian Bale’s intense antagonist. From him a glare alone suffices, as even the good guy emits anger from his very pores. Together they dwarf the rest of the cast (including the excellent Tudyk), shooting witty remarks at each other until the time comes to draw their weapons.
Events gallop along, the script introducing action sequences to keep the pace at a canter. James Mangold (Walk the Line) commands the cameras, framing the vastness of the Wild West with some panache; it may be a different man in black, but Mangold still manages to cast Wade’s rough edges in a likeable light. The end result is a sense of old-fashioned fun that prevails throughout. Even at the film’s convenient conclusion, its energetic playfulness carries us with it, as a simple whistle sends the hero off into the sunset.