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3:10 to Yuma Movie Poster

3:10 to Yuma
Four Stars
Genre: Western/Drama/Action
Rated: R
Directed by
: James Mangold
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Logan Lerman
Released by: Lionsgate

In Short: This old-fashioned western (and shoot-‘em-up morality tale) is the perfect chaser to this summer’s big-budget, effects-laden barnburners.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part…
Arizona Hold 'em
by Andrew Bender

If the last time you saw Christian Bale was as the pretty-boy Batman, “3:10 to Yuma” will be a shock. His Dan Evans is a gaunt, down-beaten, down-on-his-luck, debt-ridden rancher, tormented by nearby landowners in the arid, every-man-for-himself Arizona territory, just after the Civil War.

His life changes when notorious train bandit Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) rides into town beneath a black bowler hat—more sinister than a cowboy hat, no? Ben’s victims offer Dan a life-saving fortune if he delivers the outlaw to the prison car aboard the movie’s namesake train.

Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma
Russell Crowe in 3:10 to Yuma

Three days on horseback through the desert, the trek promises either redemption or ruin for both men, as their posse faces hostile natives, Ben’s henchmen and Ben’s own considerable cunning.

The train’s arrival looms like a character in itself. Director James Mangold, (“Walk the Line”) working from a story by Elmore Leonard, skillfully builds the stakes and tension as 3:10 approaches. Part of it comes from Ben’s being a gentleman-outlaw. He’ll kill ya’ all right, but he might also joke with ya’ first.

Christian Bale and Gretchen Mol in 3:10 to Yuma
3:10 to Yuma

His gang, with a wildfire second-in-command played by a menacing Ben Foster, is ruthless and blunt, yet Ben quotes the Bible and is a talented, sensitive artist. He also knows that silence is infinitely scarier than talking.

That last part sounds almost samurai, and Mangold and crew definitely bring a samurai sensibility to this journey. Like the best samurai stories, “3:10” evolves into a bittersweet tale of duty, honor, obligation and, ultimately, the true nature of goodness.

(Updated 09/21/07 NJ)

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