3:10 TO YUMA had three strikes against it. One, it's a western, not a popular genre lately. Two, it's a remake, which statistically are never as good as the original. Three, the director's last movie, Walk the Line, was a sappy and uninspiring biopic.
This film is yet an interesting balance of horse opera and Die Hard action. The three strikes against it make no difference. It surpasses any negative expectations and even some positive ones.
Christian Bale plays a struggling rancher named Dan Evans, a family man who can't pay the bills and who's fast becoming a disappointment in his eldest son's eyes, if not his wife's and his own.
Evans is the quintessential underdog. All the cards seem stacked against him. All the odds are not in his favor. He doesn't just face defeat. He faces certain death, but despite it all, Evans keeps going. He has a job to do and God help him; he's going to do it!
His job is to deliver a wanted criminal named Ben Wade to the Contention train station to catch the 3:10 locomotive to the Yuma Territorial Prison. The money Evans is making could lift him out his financial trouble but he's no match for Wade's gang of seven gunslingers who are hot on his trail to intercept them.
Ben Wade, played by Russell Crowe, is the fastest and sharpest shooter in the west. He's killed more men than the drought. He's smart, witty and well-versed in the Bible's scriptures. He's strong and charming, a definite devil with a smile on his face. He's dangerously cool.
Peter Fonda- who's almost unrecognizable- plays Byron McElroy, a Clint Eastwood-like Bounty Hunter who's after Wade as well. Ben Foster (Hostage and X-Men 3) embraces his inner psycho yet again as he plays Charlie, the right-hand to Wade's gritty, dirty and nasty gun slinging gang.
Make no mistake: the final battle comes down between Evans and Wade, Bale and Crowe, as their duel is not a standoff you would expect. They don't fight each other, which is what you think is going to happen but instead it's more about how they end up helping each other.
There's one really memorable scene where Evans and Wade spend some time together in a hotel suite, a bridal suite to be exact. No, they're not there for that reason, but Evans' son bursts in with bad news and confronts Crowe's character with a final inquisition on whom he is that has you secretly hoping for a light in the devil's eyes. It's really subtle acting but great drama.
The DVD features two documentaries and an audio commentary from the director, but the advanced Blu-Ray edition has triple the special features including a very cool timeline of the West, a conversation with famed writer Elmore Leonard, and an interactive experience that takes you deeper into the movie.
Four Stars out of Five.
Rated R for violence and language.
Running Time: 2hrs. and 2 mins.