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Movies Review

3:10 To Yuma

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3:10 To Yuma
Released on Friday, Sep 14 2007

Director: James Mangold
Screenwriters: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Starring: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda
Running time: 117 mins
Certificate: 15

Oozing with grit and testosterone, 3:10 To Yuma is muscling its way onto the big screen and deserves to chisel its way into your consciousness too.

This fabulous remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford Western focuses on the plight of Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Christian Bale) in late 19th Century Arizona as he strives to ensure his family still have a roof over their heads and meals on their plates. This is a tricky proposition after much of their ranch is desecrated by the legalised hoodlums in search of money.

In a bid to earn some cash, Evans volunteers to help transport the captured outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) towards the train that will take the merciless gunslinger to his trial. But Wade and his roaming gang have other ideas…

At the forefront of the movie are two dazzling performances from Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, with initially contrasting representations of masculinity that are ultimately closer than one originally suspects. Whilst Westerns are renowned for letting the guns of the protagonists do the real talking, 3:10 To Yuma wisely dwells upon their underlying psychologies and director James Mangold wonderfully captures the fears and torment that lurk in their eyes. Don’t think that this film is a talky picture though, as there’s plenty of violent action sequences to enjoy.

Bale’s ignored war hero Evans is very much the audience's identification figure as he desperately ploughs on with his dangerous mission. The ruthless burning of his ranch assets early on in the piece, plus his willingness to sacrifice himself for his family all mean that we have a vested interest in his fate. An underlying hint of impotence also gives the character an extra dimension when placed alongside the overtly virile nemesis.

On the flipside, Crowe is full of manly prowess and charisma, with the power to make those around him succumb to his will. We can only watch with excitement as he dispatches his adversaries with relish, particularly one who dares to insult his deceased prostitute mother. “Even bad men love their mummies,” he seethes immediately after. But despite such one-liners, his villainous turn thankfully doesn’t descend into one-dimensional caricature territory.

The real thrill of the film lies in watching these two men, sat on various sides of the moral fence, gradually converge and respect each other. In a fantastically tense early scene we witness how far apart the two men are when the captured Wade and his guards are forced to have dinner at Evans’ abode with his family. There’s clear sexual jealousy on the part of Evans as he fears his wife may be seduced by the witty, smart-talking Wade. But as their journey rumbles on, the two men are later able to open up emotionally with each other, in an understated manner, while holed up in a hotel room not far away from the train to Yuma.

The final act of the film firmly propels it into the realms of modern classic. Without going into detail and spoiling the end, it is thoroughly satisfying in terms of witnessing the culmination of genuine and surprising character development throughout the narrative. It also carries the weight of real emotional impact.

3:10 To Yuma delivers an absorbing mix of strong storytelling, exhilarating action sequences and powerful performances. So just make sure you hose down your Stetsons and gunsling your hook down to the nearest cinema to catch this masterpiece of brooding masculinity.

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