Down-on-his luck rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is struggling to survive in a world of powerful landowners in the drought-deprived Southwest just after the Civil War. Evans happens upon Ben Wade's (Russell Crowe) 22nd robbery against the Southern Pacific Railroad as it attempts to get payroll to its workers. 3:10 to Yuma follows the trip escorting a captured Wade to the prison train that will transport him to Yuma where Southern Pacific will finance his trial and execution. The team of men accompanying to the train are pitted against Wade's gang who want to free him.
A remake of the 1957 film, 3:10 to Yuma from Lionsgate balances action-filled, fast-paced gunfights with the more personal connection growing between Evans and Wade. Wade is portrayed as a smart, fast killer graced with a slick tongue while Evans is a man broken in body and spirit. Helping bring a killer to justice revives his sense of purpose and allows him to feel honorable, even if he can't feel heroic. Sly humor dots the film and draws the audience into the group dynamic in a light-hearted manner. This humor leavens moments that could drag as Wade and Evans struggle against each other.
While the characters of Evans and Wade evolve through their connection to each other, other characters remain one-dimensional props. Each character is portrayed with ambiguous morals, embracing neither right nor wrong. Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) is concerned with his company's money. Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) has engaged in despicable acts on behalf of a former employer. Even Evans joins the group to secure his financial survival. The very honesty of these motivations is refreshing. However, the focus of the film is on the two protagonists and their relationship.
This movie does not pretend to be more than it is - a fun, exciting movie to watch with friends on Saturday night. Dialogue is snappy and sly. Action scenes are engaging and filled with near misses (and hits). ENI gives 3:10 to Yuma a thumbs up.