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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 September 2011
....They were paying me so they could walk away.

3:10 To Yuma is directed by James Mangold and co-adapted to screenplay by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. A remake of Delmer Daves' 1957 film of the same name, it's based on a story written by Elmore Leonard. It stars Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda, Ben Foster and Logan Lerman. Music is by Marco Beltrami and cinematography by Phedon Papamichael.

After the capture of notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe), a posse is put together to escort him to the town of Contention from where he will be put on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Joining this posse is broke rancher Dan Evans (Bale), disabled in the Civil War, Dan is struggling to keep hold of his land and to support his family. Seen as a flop in the eyes of his eldest son William (Lerman), Dan sees this opportunity as a way out of his problems. But with Wade an intelligent foe, and the outlaw boss' gang on their trail, Evans and the posse will do well to make it to Contention alive....

Daves' original film is a fine effort, very much pulsing with psychological beats and cloaked in claustrophobic atmospherics. Backed up by two excellent Western performers in Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, there is many a Western fan who cherish it and never felt it was a genre piece ripe for a remake; myself included. But the logic behind the reasons Mangold and his team put forward for remaking it made sense. A story of great thematics for the adults, and action a go-go for the younger modern film fan. Thus putting a Western back in the headlines at yet another time when the genre was gasping for air. All that was left to do was get two of the modern era's biggest stars to play Wade and Evans-which of course they duly did-and it was good to go. Just don't mess it up was all that was asked of the makers.

Running at nearly half an hour longer than the original, Mangold's movie slots in a new mid-section and changes the ending. The former works a treat as the posse venture through hostile Apache country, meet some ne'er-do-well railroad ruffians and Wade's gang, led by the supremely fiendish Charlie Prince (Foster), are on the bloody trail. The latter is a huge misstep, both in execution and character development. Most film fans are happy to suspend disbelief in the name of good entertainment, but here we are asked to ignore some impossible athletics while also being asked to swallow a character turn around that beggars belief. Such a shame because up till then the blend of traditional Western character themes such as morality and redemption, had dovetailed nicely with the pistol banging and all round breezy action construction. While the father and son axis gives the narrative some extra bite.

Even bad guys love their mothers

The performances are also of a high standard. In the support slots Fonda, Foster and Lerman are top dollar. Fonda is all leather faced and gruff as bounty hunter McElroy, Foster does a quality line in sneering villainy, and Lerman, in a tricky role, utterly convinces as the conflicted boy breaking out into a man. But this is Crowe and Bale's movie. Crowe has Wade as an intelligent dandy, a man who loves and understands women, an artist who also has a tongue as quick as his hands are on his guns. We know that Wade is callous, but Crowe ensures that we never know what is around the corner or truly on his mind. Bale puts much dignity into Evans, he's a put upon man, tortured by his failings on the home front, but there is stoic nobility there and as he and Wade venture further on their journey, a grudging respect begins to form and Bale and Crowe really start to put credibility into their characters. And then that last quarter nearly undoes all their excellent work....

In spite of this, 3:10 To Yuma is a good time to be had as a modern Western production with old traditional values. Energetic and never dull from first frame to last, it's recommended on proviso you don't mind unscrewing your head and taking out your brain for the last 15 minutes. 7.5/10
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Despite a couple of high-profile stars in Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, James Mangold's long-gestating version of Elmore Leonard's 3:10 to Yuma wasn't able to do a True Grit at the box-office and provide a western hit, which is a pity because it's the best effort to revive the horse opera since Open Range [DVD] [2004]. Perhaps the original intended casting of Tom Cruise and Eric Bana may have helped at the box-office - Crowe certainly doesn't have even half of the charisma that Glenn Ford had in the 1957 Delmar Daves version, though Bale has suffering down almost as pat as the eternally worn-down Van Heflin - but the film surprisingly manages to improve on that version's problematic ending that stopped it just short of being a masterpiece: it's not a huge change, but it's just big enough for one character's actions to make sense this time and not feel like a Hollywood copout. It's not the only difference. The short story has been opened out considerably, no longer relegating much of the action to a two-hander in a hotel room as the very bad man and his unlikely escort wait for the prison train - or for his ruthless gang to try to spring him. This time round more than half of the picture is taken up with the eventful ride to that town through Apache territory and a railroad camp with Ben Foster and the remnants of the gang in hot pursuit of the ever-depleting makeshift group of guards - Peter Fonda's ruthless and convincingly weather-beaten bounty hunter, Alan Tudyk's vet, Dallas Roberts' railroad man and Bale's embittered son Logan Lerman.

Mangold's Copland was very much a modern-day Western and he's completely at home with the real thing, offering another disabled hero nobody thinks is up to the job in Christian Bale's embattled debt-saddled rancher who had his foot shot off back in the wars and is now desperate for cash to prevent the local loan shark from burning down his farm and selling it to the railroad. It does a better job of linking the two men than the earlier version, with Bale stumbling across their gold shipment robbery while searching for his scattered herd. The robbery itself sets the tone for the new version and its considerably larger body count and the odd trailer-friendly explosion, and also gives unwelcome rise to Crowe explaining one particularly ruthless action that would have been better left unjustified, though thankfully there's not too much expounding of world views or moral codes. Like the best Westerns, this is a film where actions speak louder than words, and the action itself is generally well handled, the screenplay throwing in some good twists along the way even if Crowe's outlaw never really gets under Bale's skin the way that Ford managed with Heflin. It's well acted too, the supporting players making their mark without hogging the screen and Mangold keeping things moving along briskly despite the running time passing the two hour mark. Like the Delmar Daves version this may not make it to the very top tier of the genre, but it's still a damn good - and damn entertaining - Western.

The DVD includes an audio commentary by Mangold, 7 deleted scenes, only one, where Crowe's outlaw taunts Bale by telling his son "isn't protecting you, he's following me," adding much, and a trio of featurettes, but the BluRay extras package is more extensive, with additional featurettes on Marco Beltrani's Oscar-nominated score, the history of the railroads out west, the guns used for the film and an interview with author Elmore Leonard about his days writing pulp Westerns. The interactive `Inside Yuma' feature isn't entirely successful, slightly awkward to navigate between script, storyboards and on-set footage (the latter not helped by running the film's soundtrack over the top of them) while the trailer listed on the sleeve is missing and the historical timeline feature is useless because the text is so tiny as to be illegible even on a large screen TV (what is it with some Blu-rays and miniscule unreadable text?). Yet despite that it's a decent extras package rounded out by a fine 2.40:1 widescreen transfer.
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Putting Russell Crowe and Christian Bale together in this movie was a master-stroke. They take opposing roles as the film romps along and the conflict (and then friendship) which develops between them makes for some gripping, nasty and touching moments.
This isn't one of those slowly paced, meandering modern westerns where it takes forever and a day for nothing much to happen. This is a vigh-velocity romp with plenty of wham! and bam! In 3:10 To Yuma the characters develop through blood, sweat and tears (punctuated by gunfire and fist fights).

Bale is a failing farmer, a cripple, who feels he's letting down his family and in particular his oldest son. Crowe is a high-living outlaw, used to ruling the roost and robbing whoever he can. Their paths cross when Crowe is captured and Bale agrees to join the guards who will take the prisoner to catch the prison train (that's the 3:10 to Yuma).

So that sets the scene for a road journey, one where the two men get to know each other, understand more about each other, fight each other, ride horses, sit round campfire, get beaten up -- all that good western stuff. The pace of the film is rapid, so it doesn't sit around dwelling on each point, but clips along to the next fight, the next showdown, the next twist.
There are moments of sweeping action on the plains and in the railroad yards, backed with gritted-teeth drama as the farmer's son starts to admire the outlaw -- his father can't compete with the glamorous gun-slinger who effortlessly charms the women, and provides exactly the wrong role model for the boy.
Bale's character can't quite believe that Crowe really is 100% bad, and that he's completely beyond redemption. Crowe keeps proving, brutally, that he really IS a bad man. Yet in the end, both characters find a form of redemption, via a shower of bullets and a heart-stopping chase sequence. It's one of the best showdown sequences I've ever seen, across the clapboard walkways, through the barns and alleyways and on the roofs of a frontier town.

3:10 to Yuma is over two hours long but it flies by. If you missed it at the movies then definitely watch it now. It's one of the best westerns to come along for years -- all guns blazing...
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 November 2007
Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is a theif and a killer, and after robbing the stage 22 times, he's been caught. Rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) volunteers to join the posse that's taking Wade to the train station, a three-day ride away, for the princely sum of $200. Evans needs the money to keep his ranch and to improve his status in his teenage son's eyes. All the while, Wade's evil gang is following them and slowly but surely whittling down the posse.

This western grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go for two hours. At the end, I felt like I hadn't taken a breath the whole time. It's gritty and dirty and cruel and incredibly intense. Crowe manages to make his nasty character likeable and even heroic at the end. His manly charisma dominates the screen. Bale is also excellent as the pitable, noble rancher. I was really rooting for him. Ben Foster plays a thoroughly hateful sadist with relish, but he looked so much like Mike Love of the Beachboys that I was a little distracted during his close-ups.

The taut script has many memorable lines such as, "Even a bad man loves his mama." The desert scenery is magnificent and the movie has a realistic, no-frills look to it. It left me exhausted and sad, but it was powerful and extremely well-made.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2014
The greatest element about this Western, probably the best since 1992’s ‘Unforgiven’, is the chemistry between leading men Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. As many movies can be judged on the strength of the villain in many action genres, Crowe is both charming and deadly at the flip of a coin without over-playing his role. His outlaw has survived by being a humane person, with morals and reasons behind his actions and with a charming smile to face you, Crowe shows he will easily stab you in the back (or neck) when your back is turned.

Bale’s broken and troubled rancher may not have the exciting or fun role of the two, but Dan Evans is the symbol of 1800s America; struggling to provide for his family and release the horror of war he faced and was wounded in. His sense of duty is wonderful, and Bale plays a great and likeable character who is just trying to protect those he loves by proving himself as a worthy husband, father and rancher.

Director James “Walk The Line” Mangold dispenses with many Western clichés and simply sticks to a rousing action film, thankfully not packed with shoot-outs or chases, but instead full of interesting and tense character development and the growing sense of danger from the dangers around the gang of men heading to their final destination. It’s brutal and brilliantly staged once the six shooters are drawn, with nothing glamorised or touched by CGI thankfully.
Just good old fashioned set design, authentic locations and stunt-work and an exciting, Eastwood-style soundtrack by Marco Beltrami.

While the middle portion of the film does focus more on exposition into the minds of the two men, it may seem to falter a little against the steady pace of crossing the dusty plains, but if you are into drama as much as action, it shouldn’t bother you as this is carried along by the relationship between Crowe and Bale, both showing their acting talent in delivering will he / won’t he moments as their boundaries and limits are tested next to their honour and sense of morality of what is right and wrong.

Of course we are treated to a fitting finale, wrapping things up nice and quick (maybe TOO quick for some), but the staging of the classic Western shoot-out against a backdrop of making it to the departing train with a rousing soundtrack is the high-light and culmination of the journey we’ve made with these two men, and it’s a guilty moment of classic Western heroism; bullets spitting from the woodwork, gun smoke curling into the sky topped by real stunt work. A perfect, modern Western film.
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HALL OF FAMEon 7 August 2009
My take on 2007's 3:10 to Yuma? Ninety-two minutes for the 1957 original versus 122 minutes. Thirty-two listed actors of which 11 are credited (according to IMDb) versus 43 listed actors of which 32 are credited.

Taut craftsmanship with few obvious lessons versus morality Hollywood-style. No angst, just a great Western story versus so much angst (morality, redemption, failure, father/son, husband/wife, and so on) that I thought I'd never get the angst out of my clothes.

A tension-filled duel of wits and stubbornness between Van Heflin and Glenn Ford which ties them closer and closer together versus odd and unnecessary (except by Hollywood standards) hints of an attachment that dare not speak its name featuring Wade's psycho sidekick,

Great character acting versus great character acting.

Two fine lead performances versus two fine lead performances...but for Dan Evans I'll take Heflin's straightforward doggedness over Christian Bale's modern-day intensity. While I like Ford's and Russell Crowe's performances as Ben Wade, just as a matter of personal preference I like Ford's particular style of slyness and charisma as Wade a little better than Crowe's.

An ending that is tidy and quite satisfying versus an ending that tries to carry too much meaning.

Is it fair to judge a contemporary remake against the original? I think it probably is when the remake suffers (in my view) from contemporary Hollywood bloat. The original was a tight, small story put together by Hollywood craftsmen who knew how to tell and present a story on film. There just isn't, in my opinion, 30 minutes of better movie in the remake. I've watched the Ford/Heflin version a couple of times. I doubt that I'll revisit the Crowe/Bale version. For those who like movies, whichever version you wind up liking, watching both might be a worthwhile way to spend three-and-a-half hours.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 October 2008
This is a remake of the 1957 film of the same name. Fortunately I saw the original last year, which is a minor classic itself. In general I don't like remakes, however this is well done and Russell Crowe again shows that when he wants to, he can be a terrific actor. Rather surprisingly I thought his performance overshadowed Christian Bale's, who is generally considered a better actor.

The story that Peter Ustinov used to tell of an actor he was working with is never more true than here. Ustinov was in the background in a shot, and the star of the movie turned to him and said "what are you doing?". Ustinov said "I'm doing nothing". The star said "Oh no your not I'M DOING NOTHING". That sort of sums of Russell Crowes performance. He doesn't do a lot, but his not doing a lot is actually very good!

The plot has been told over and over here so to keep it short, Ben Wade (Crowe) is a notorious criminal who has to be put on the 3:10 train to Yuma (where there is a prison). Dan Evans (Bale) is a struggling farmer who being desparate for money volunteers to help, knowing that Wades gang will be on their tail.

The major difference between this film and the original is the inclusion of Dan Evans son as a major character. I didn't think this did any harm, and in places it worked very well.

The single DVD has a few extras on it which are pretty good (commentary/deleted scenes). On the DVD case it says its the best western since Unforgiven. Whilst writing this review I was trying to think of any other westerns since Unforgiven and couldn't remember any... So if I've seen any they obviously didn't have a big impact. This film is by no means perfect but I have no problem recommending it.
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Talk about mixing a good-old-fashioned Western with modern-day lifestyles - here's a cowboy in 1880s Arizona with debt problems, mortgage arrears and who might lose his ranch as a result! Maybe the credit crunch isn't such news after all. But instead of repossession, in those days the lenders tended to set fire to your property, so hopefully we have progressed a little.

This is an attractively-shot movie with a really good musical score and a couple of A-listers in Bale and Crowe, all of which combines to make for good if sometimes rather violent visual and aural entertainment. It starts off reasonably enough, with financially-stressed Evans (Bale) agreeing to help put captured villian Wade (Crowe) on a train - that's the 3:10 to Yuma - to make sure he goes to prison. But things get a bit confusing after a while, because it's a fair certainty that Wade will be hanged as soon as he gets to Yuma and while he makes a few expected attempts to free himself from his captors during the long horseback-ride to the station, he ultimately gets what could be described as an attack of morality and ends up with somewhat conflicting feelings for Evans in the seemingly impossible quest. It's pacey and full of action but all of this serves to put a mask on the underlying point of the film in the first place. Character development is good but there are more point-blank killings than I feel there need have been given the character-driven original (made 50 years earlier) on which it is based. As a result it shouldn't be taken too seriously as a story because in the end it fails to convince, but as a visual spectacle it's worth watching and the soundtrack helped to lift it a couple of additional notches too. A better approach would have been to tone down the violence and instead focus on the character of Wade and explain in more detail why he made the decisions he did towards the finale. That's probably what the 1957 film of the same title did, I suppose, so for the 21st century they've removed half of the interesting bits and replaced them with as many shoot-outs as they could fit in. A pity, because they could have made a great film if they had, as opposed to a merely good one.
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VINE VOICEon 12 December 2007
'3:10 to Yuma' is the adaption from Elmore Leonard's novel and is also a remake of the 1957 film of the same name. The film begins when rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) heads into Bisbee to clear up issues concerning the sake of his land when he witnesses a stagecoach robbery, lead by famous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). Then, with the help of Evans, Wade is captured by the law in Bisbee and Evans is one of the escorts who will take Wade to the 3:10 to Yuma train in Contention for the reward of $200. Evans' quest for taking Wade to the station is not only for saving for his land but an inner battle that he can be more than just a naive rancher in the eyes of his gunslinging son William Evans. The transport to Contention is hazardous and filled with ambushes from Indians, pursuits by Wade's vengeful gang and Wade's own conniving.

I've not watched a great deal of Westerns, so I didn't really know what to expect from this film, but I watched it anyway as it was directed by James Mangold who also directed some of my recent favourites, Cop Land, Walk the Line and Identity and I was not disappointed by '3:10 to Yuma' at all. The action and excitement is heavy from the get-go and the acting is just top-notch. The standout actor here has to be Russell Crowe who plays the cocky, confident and ruthless outlaw Ben Wade absolutely perfectly. I've never been much of a fan of Crowe but after watching this I wondered what I'd been missing as I thought he did a superb performance. Christian Bale plays Dan Evans very well, although I felt the character itself was rather a let-down as opposed to Bale's acting, as this definitely wasn't his best role I've seen him in. Ben Foster, who plays Wade's right-hand man, Charlie Prince is also an extremely talented actor who I'd seen in some of his previous films like The Punisher, X-Men 3, Hostage and 30 Days of Night and this is without a doubt his most stand-out performance of them all.

Overall this is an excellent film all round that is just non-stop from start to finish and even makes you route for the bad guy the whole way through. Definitely one of the best films of 2007 and will no doubt be one of the best DVDs of 2008. Highly recommended.
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on 7 July 2011

In fact, if it had ended about 20 minutes earlier than it did, I might have stuck 4 stars on this. But the ending is so utterly implausible and ridiculous, relying on a ludicrous shoot-out where all of a sudden no-one can apparently hit a cow's backside with a banjo and a final scene that is so preposterously thought out that I could hardly believe it, that I almost feel annoyed at giving it 3 stars. That's how much the denouement irritated me.

The fact is though that, aside from one nonsensical piece of suicide on the part of a couple of the characters, there is a lot to like in 3:10 To Yuma. Bale and Crowe are excellent, bouncing off each other superbly, while Peter Fonda and Gretchen Mol do sterling work in support. But it's Ben Foster who completely steals the show, for me, with a mesmerising performance as Crowe's right-hand man. Shame he's such a terrible goalie. Arf. And for the most part, the story rattles along relatively smoothly.

I don't doubt that some people will love the finale and come up with a reasonable explanation for it, but in the admittedly very small post-Unforgiven world of westerns, how it chooses to end is, for me, unforgivable. Worth a look, but it's not a patch on Open Range.
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