3:10 to Yuma is 3:10 to Kick Ass
I picked up 3:10 to Yuma on DVD the day it came out. I had seen it twice in the theater on opening weekend and was hoping that the DVD would provide the same entertainment. It did deliver, because the movie is the same, just in a DVD format and with special features. Great movie. My man crush on Bale grew to levels I didn’t think possible, Russell Crowe was a stick of dynamite in it, and Ben Foster more than holds his own, reminding us why he earned the nickname The Phenom of Flash Forward.
The story follows a down and out rancher, Dan Evans (Bale) as he tries to bring the ruthless (and this is why we really need more westerns, because I can’t say the word “ruthless” too much outside of this context) outlaw (ditto on this word), Ben Wade (Crowe) to Contention to catch a train to Yuma prison. The train comes at 3:10, so, you know, that’s how that title comes about. Full circle. As you watch the movie, you learn that there is a lot more to this simple rancher, and this job means a lot more than attempting (or succeeding, don’t want to spoil the ending, since “attempting” implies some sort of failure) to get Wade on the 3:10 train, his true reasons are to save face with his family, who have grown weary of the lifestyle he has led, even if he has led it honorably. In these current times where we hold people who act honorably in lower regard than we do those who are dishonorable (everyone loves the bad guy, how else do you explain why Lacey stayed so long on Rock of Love?), 3:10 does well to display this dynamic.
It is an age of remakes, so I do not hold that against this movie. And neither should you. It is a western, but don’t let your bias against the genre prevent you from seeing it. This isn’t a Sam Peckinpah, shoot ’em up just to shoot ’em up, slow motion bloody death because death wasn’t really what these movies were about. James Mangold plays with the real issues at the heart of the classic western: struggle, survival (this is survival, not death), honor, the journey not the destination, and the classic good versus evil. He never over indulges in this movie, it finds its stride early and sticks with it. The pace is fast, but still leaves the required time for the character development that makes this story so compelling. Bale and Crowe play so well off each other that we cannot turn away even when the bullets are not flying.
As for the DVD, the extras were “meh.” It has a feature on the making of the film and then a snoozefest documentary on the wild west, which was impressive only in the way that the people interviewed for it managed to take something as exciting as the lawless expansion westward in the late 1800’s and made it sound about as exciting as a 40 minute lecture on pockets.
My conclusion is that you should see this movie. It will help you remember why the western is the greatest contribution American film has ever made to cinema. That is a bit dramatic you may say, but I dare you to find anything that remotely comes close to capturing the true essence of the American spirit in film. But if you can’t complete that dare then you have to strip naked and walk into your mom’s work and give her a hug. So just take my word for it, and watch this movie. – Brandin