Thursday, 26 January 2017

3:10 to Yuma, 2007

Dan Evans to his elder son William: And you just remember that your old man walked Ben Wade to that station when nobody else would. 

The last scene in 3:10 to Yuma (2007) where notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and peace-loving rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) dash out of a hotel, with bullets flying all around them, is reminiscent of Butch Cassidy (Paul Newman) and Sundance Kid (Robert Redford) running out of an empty hovel in the final moments of the famous namesake film (1969).

The comparison ends there.

Cassidy and the Kid are thick as two thieves, literally, robbing banks and trains before meeting their fate in a Bolivian town. Wade and Evans start out as foes and in a fateful turn of events end up fighting a common enemy—Wade’s own murderous gang trying to rescue their boss.

Civil War veteran Evans, married with two young sons, reluctantly agrees to be part of the team escorting Wade from Bisbee to Contention—and put him on the 3:10 train to Yuma to face justice and the gallows. He desperately needs the $200 reward to clear a debt and save his land, even if it means risking his life for a gunslinger.


Predictably, things don’t go as planned. The journey is fraught with danger and high drama, as Indians and gunmen ambush the party and the shrewd and manipulative Wade plays mind games with Evans. In the end, the rancher is left alone with his captive. Does he succeed in putting Wade on the train?

Doc Potter: Is it true that you dynamited a wagon full of prospectors in the western territories last spring?

Ben Wade: No, that's a lie... It was a train full.


3:10 to Yuma is about one man’s courage and determination, and what he believes in, and another man’s last shot at redemption and in a way doffing his hat to the better man. The end turned out to be anticlimactic compared to what I expected. Bale and Crowe fit into the skin of their characters. Crowe plays the bad guy in a good way. I’m not sure villainous roles suit him. 

Directed by James Mangold (Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, Kate & Leopold, The Wolverine), the two-hour long film has a galloping pace, plenty of gunfights, and cold-blooded killing. The action is in harmony with Marco Beltrami's music. The dialogue is crisp and clever, and almost philosophical in tone. Wade’s trigger-happy sidekick Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) and bounty hunter Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) are the other actors to watch out for. Foster, in particular, plays a mean gunman to perfection.
  

Ben Wade to Dan Evans: You know, squeezin' that watch won't stop time.

In spite of its contemporary filmmaking style, 3:10 to Yuma is in every sense a traditional western. I intend to watch the 1957 original starring Glenn Ford as Ben Wade and Van Heflin as Dan Evans, and read Elmore Leonard’s short story on which the film is based.

Recommended.

22 comments:

  1. I really don't like this version of the story, to be honest. I came to it after the 1957 film and the more I saw of it, the less I liked it. I recommend you try the original, and read the short story, to see how much was (unnecessarily, in my opinion) added and how much of the tone and central message was lost in the process.
    Colin

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    1. Thanks, Colin. Although I quite enjoyed the film, I'd mixed feelings about it. I did think it dragged on more than was necessary. Something I should have mentioned in my piece: Given the odds, I was surprised that Bale's character survived for as long as he did. I'm going to take your advice and read the short story as well as see the original, which I'm sure is more realistic.

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    2. More than that; Prashant, I think the 1957 movie has more heart, which is something I appreciate a lot - you come away from it feeling so much better about everything really.
      Colin

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    3. Colin, those are the kind of films I like watching, be it western or any other. Movie with a heart is a good way of putting it.

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  2. Nice review of the movie, which I haven't seen.

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    1. Thank you, Oscar. I'm slowly getting addicted to Netflix.

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed the film, Prashant. I thought it was very well-done, and the tension kept up effectively the whole way through.

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    1. I agree about the tension, Margot. Never a dull moment in the film though I'd to suspend disbelief when it came to the gunplay.

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  4. Must tell you, I am a big fan of the original version, less keen on this as a result. Very curious to know what you think of the two when you compare them.

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    1. Sergio, you and Colin have convinced me to watch the original and much sooner than I'd have. There would be so much to compare between the two films.

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  5. Wonderful review, Prashant. I do remember seeing the original film with Ford and Heflin, many MANY years ago. I think it came out during the period I love best for movie westerns. The films of today are just too violent for my tastes. And lately I have a hard time accepting Christian Bale in anything since I learned that he isn't the nicest of persons in real life. I'm sorry, but that occasionally affects my perception. Too bad. Since I marveled at Bale's performance (when he was a young boy) in the Stephen Spielberg film, EMPIRE OF THE SUN. (If you haven't seen that one, I highly recommend it.)

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    1. Thank you, Yvette. That's very kind of you. I don't review (in the strictest sense) as much as I write about books and films. I love westerns from that era too. They were certainly more realistic. Frankly, I'm not a fan of Christian Bale who I have liked in the odd movie though not in "The Dark Knight" series. I didn't know he'd acted in EMPIRE OF THE SUN. That was such a long time ago. But I will try and watch it again.

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  6. I liked this movie quite a bit, although it seemed a bit miscast to me. Still I enjoyed it.

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    1. That's an interesting observation, Charles. I never thought of either Crowe or Bale as being "miscast." But then, such things rarely occur to me!

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  7. Prashant – Your post makes me want to see this one. I skipped it when it was out in theaters because I am not a fan or either Crowe or Bale. I have seen the original. There is a story that Howard Hawks disliked the original so much that he made RIO BRAVO in response.

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    1. Elgin, it's an enjoyable flick though I can't compare it with the 1957 original which I plan to see soon. I prefer Russell Crowe to Christian Bale who I find expressionless. I saw RIO BRAVO several years ago and I'd certainly like to watch some of Howard Hawks' other films.

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  8. One of my favorite Western films. Both this version and the original.

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    1. David, I plan to watch the original sometime this month and, of course, read Elmore Leonard's short story.

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  9. I haven't seen either version of this movie, Prashant. I did not know that the original source was an Elmore Leonard story.

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    1. Tracy, I didn't know that the films were based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. I found out while reading about the original. Perhaps, you should watch the 1957 version first.

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  10. I'm another one who really liked the original. Maybe I will see this sometime: nice review. Will be interested in your comparison of the two if you do watch the original.

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    1. Thanks, Moira. I haven't got around to watching the original which is clearly the favourite here.

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