Russell Crowe as th ruthless Ben Wade

(originally written on September 9, 2007)

James Mangold could never be accused of not rotating his filmmaking wheels with each project, and now over a decade into his career he has shifted to the western. It is strange that he has created his first true masterpiece with a remake of the 1957 film, 3:10 To Yuma, which was based on a short story by the then young pup by the name of Elmore Leonard. Mangold has made some flawed but decent films (Cop Land, Girl,Interrupted), and others that are quite good (Kate & Leopold, Identity), plus a couple that have been close to greatness (Heavy and Walk the Line), but it is with this renewed version of a film that I’ve heard (haven’t yet seen it) is a classic of its time that the director has sharpened all the rough edges and has everything working right.
I’m going to lay off a little on speaking of the film’s excellent performances from the two leads, because we’ve come to expect greatness every time out from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Instead, I must talk about what drives this from from frame one and on, and that’s the outstanding pacing set up by Mangold, his cinematographer, the terrific Phedon Papamichael, and the editor, Michael McCusker. They do an outstanding job of pulling the audience into the dillemma that is Dan Evans’ (Bale) life right away, and they don’t let go until the credits roll. Unlike the last remake I reviewed, which was Rob Zombie’s version of Halloween, this film actually shows us why it is the right film to reconstruct at a time like this. There are many perfect reasons to bring 3:10 To Yuma to this generation’s audiences, with one big one being that most people really aren’t going to remember the original, or most have never heard of it due to its production exactly fifty years ago. But what makes this remake such a dynamite one is the chance for an amazing stage to be set for talents like Crowe and Bale, who play these roles to the highest level imaginable. I believe that as a complete actor, Bale is in a league that only a handful of others out there can even come close to in this generation, but Crowe is the one who elevates this film to higher grounds.
Crowe is equal parts evil yet nearly likable as the ruthless thief and killer Ben Wade, who is finally caught and taken into holding after 22 robberies. Evans, striving for money so his family can continue to love on their land even after the railroads come in, takes the offer of being one of the few men to escort Wade to contention and on a 3:10 train to Yuma prison. The journey taken in this film is ultimately a conscious one between these two completely opposite men, and even in scenes without words they speak very loudly within their eyes. I expect Mangold’s film to be one of those rare films that can connect to just aout every type of moviegoer, with its authentic western feel, it’s hefty amount of gunfights and chases, and the addition of the aformentioned emotionall battles. I definitely expected to like this film very much, because Mangold always seems to consistently make a good film. Now I have proof that he can actually create a masterwork.
Rating: A+
117 minutes
Lions Gate

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2 Responses to “DVD PICK OF THE WEEK: 3:10 To Yuma”

  1. James Mangold Says:

    THanks for the kind words… jm

  2. Ferguson Says:

    Thank you so much for reading!

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