I’m not a Western girl; in fact it’s the one genre of film that I tend to avoid with a fiery passion. It wasn’t until I saw “3:10 to Yuma” that I really understood why people enjoy these types of film. Overall I can’t declare my love for every type of Western I do have to commend director James Mangold for making a movie that even non-fans of the genre will love and enjoy.
Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a mild-mannered farmer trying to make ends meet so his wife and children aren’t homeless. On the day he and his boys go to town they witness a robbery being committed by the legendary outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). When Wade gets caught by the local sheriff he is set to be put on the 3:10 to Yuma to be convicted and hung for his crimes. Dan decides to enlist with the group to make some money to pay off his debts but what he doesn’t understand is that Wade’s posse, led by his second-in-command Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) is out to rescue him.
Out of all the movies I saw in 2007 I thought “3:10 to Yuma” was one of the best action films I saw. The shootout scenes are nothing short of spectacular and I was completely immersed in all the action going on. The film starts from the word “go” and doesn’t let up until the very end. The story is tight and concise and feels completely original. You almost never know who’s going to be killed; one scene in particular had a character being killed off that I assumed was going to live till the end. I have never seen the original but this remake seems very contemporary and old-fashioned all at the same time. The acting in it is amazing from the main characters and almost all of them have their time to shine. The greatest pair-up in cinematic history (to me at least) is Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. They work together so effortlessly, and their spar-offs are so fun to watch. You’re constantly wondering how they’re going to manipulate the other and there’s a great cat and mouse dynamic going on. I also loved Ben Foster as the evil Charlie Prince. He’s so consumed with getting Wade’s approval that he’ll stop at nothing to show how tough he is. I also loved Peter Fonda as the weathered Pinkerton agent Byron McElroy. I also have to commend Dallas Roberts, who was in Mangold’s last film “Walk the Line,” who was great as the snobby Grayson Butterfield.
The only issue I had with this movie is how marginalized the female leads are, mind you there’s only two and one of them is only in it for a second. Poor Gretchen Mol is wasted as Dan’s lonely wife Alice. I think they alluded to a far bigger role for her that got cut and it would have been great to watch more of her interactions with Bale and Crowe. I also felt there was no reason to have Vinessa Shaw in the film as she’s only there to be Crowe’s mistress for a second. It just seemed like she was pasted in last minute.
The DVD has some very interesting featurettes that strive to tell you more about the production of the movie. There’s an audio commentary with the director James Mangold that is entertaining to listen to if you’ve already watched the movie. He takes a lot of time to discuss the original film which was fun for someone like me who had never seen it. There is are two standard making-of specials that show the special effects production and how they made the actors look like convincing cowboys. There’s also a very interesting documentary on the history of the outlaw which I thought was fun to see that they delved into the historical aspect. There is also a healthy dose of deleted scenes with added dialogue scenes for some of the lesser characters that was fun to watch.
Overall this DVD is very fun to watch not just for the film but to get a lot of background information as well. There’s a fun movie and some in-depth historical stuff that will give you a very well-rounded idea of what it takes to make a Western in this day and age. Definitely rent this film and if you enjoy the bonus features make this a DVD you come to own.