This week I’ve got another western movie review for you. The last review in this genre was a somewhat older film in the genre with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. This week I have a more recent film in the genre for you with the 2007 version of 3:10 to Yuma, starring Russell Crowe & Christian Bale.
Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a rancher and Civil War veteran, who is barely scraping by – and it doesn’t help that Glen Hollander, who Evans owns money two, is actively sabotaging his efforts so he can claim Evans’ land. Evans finds a possible way to save his land, and his self respect, by escorting captured bandit Ben Wade (played by Russell Crowe), to the town of Contention where he will be put on a train to Yuma prison. However, Wade’s gang, lead by his psychopathic lieutenant Charlie Prince is out to rescue him.
The performances by Crowe, Bale, and Ben Foster as Prince are excellent. Foster’s performance in particular is one of the best in the film, and he does an excellent job expressing confusion at Wade’s actions by the conclusion of the movie.
Additionally, the fights are choreographed very well, and shot very well – no shaky-cam here (thank G0d). The story, which is adapted from a short story by Elmore Leonard, is solid, and fleshes out all of the members of the cast, save a few supporting characters who are, basically, Redshirts.
The interlude in the Chinese mining camp didn’t help the film’s momentum in my opinion. It might even have hurt it. To elaborate on this a little, my ideal film plot arc is The Fellowship of the Ring. The film has continually rising tension until Rivendell, where the audience gets a break, and then again until Lothlorien, when the audience gets another break, and then we get rising tension until the end of the film. Further, every plot point during those sections serves to forward the plot somewhat (and it helps that they cut Tom Bombadil from the story for that reason).
This brings me to the Mining Camp sequence. As far as the plot is concerned, all that sequence does to serve the plot is to kill off Alan Tudyk’s character, and to (in theory) bring Wade closer to Evans because Evans saved Wade’s life. To a certain degree, the film pays off later, but the sequence could have been executed better.
To be honest, I don’t particularly have an “ugly” in the film for once.
This is now one of my favorite westerns. The excellent score, writing, and performances just make for one excellent whole of a film. I recommend that if you enjoy Westerns that you add this film to your movie library.