3:10 to Yuma (2007)
January 16, 2024 12:12 AM - Subscribe

A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who's awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

Outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) terrorizes 1800s Arizona, especially the Southern Railroad, until he is finally captured. Wade must be brought to trial, so Dan Evans (Christian Bale), the owner of a drought-stricken ranch, volunteers to escort him to the train. Along the trail, a grudging respect forms between the men, but danger looms at every turn, and the criminal's men are in pursuit.

Danielle Solzman: This isn’t your typical Western where good triumphs over evil. While Evans does the job in getting Wade to the train, his own fate is not pretty. Meanwhile, there is also no telling what will happen to Wade at the end. It’s sort of open-ended. Could he possibly be planning an escape? We’ll never truly know in all likelihood. I want to say this about the ending: they change it from the original film and even the short story itself. Unlike this version, Dan Evans lived in the 1957 film.

Dorothy Woodend: When bad men and good men come together, the good one gets a little bad, the bad one gets a little good, but it always ends with someone riding off into the sunset. Echoes of Shane, and innumerable John Wayne vehicles flicker in the distance, and you can't help but think of these predecessors while watching Yuma. They imbue the film with a well-used quality, like old leather buffed to a deep glow by years of hard use. It's a beautiful thing.

Tasha Robinson: It's hard to tell, since Bale and Crowe both play their cards close to the chest, embracing the Western aesthetic with tight, controlled performances. The film itself is more expressive, with its gory murders, big chase scenes, explosions, and other major expansions of the originally short tale. Brandt and Haas go too far in trying to pack their characters with extra humanizing characteristics—Bale has a peg leg, Crowe likes to sketch his surroundings—and their version of the ending seems ridiculously improbable. But Mangold delivers a taut modern take on a lesser classic, preserving the High Noon themes about doing the right thing against all odds, and injecting a more modern pacing and urgency without going overboard. His film isn't Leonard's classic, but it's a solid, genre-respecting Western in its own right.

posted by Carillon (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could he possibly be planning an escape?

The film ends with him whistling for his horse. I think we can infer an escape plan, yes.
posted by SPrintF at 8:49 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

I haven't seen this since it was in theatres but I remember quite liking it. I also remember that I found Ben Foster's Charlie Prince to be the most interesting character and a compelling antagonist playing against the two leads.
posted by synecdoche at 10:24 AM on January 16 [1 favorite]

I remember when this came out, a critic wrote it would have been a better, or at least more interesting, if the lead actors had switched roles. So now every time I see this movie pop up I imagine Bale as a dead-eyed criminal and Crowe as a rough, salt-of-the-earth rancher, and think, yeah, maybe.
posted by martin q blank at 2:21 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]

I started rewatching this a couple weeks ago but quickly switched it off when the awful weenie son starts browbeating his father; obviously the point is the son grows to recognize and appreciate the quiet heroism of his flawed but decent father vs. the cheap glamour of a badman, but between that kid and the son in A History of Violence, casting directors of the early 2000s were really into sniveling brats who made my skin crawl.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:19 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]

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