"3:10 to Yuma" Review

Title: 3:10 To Yuma 
Director: James Mangold 
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale 
Studio: Columbia Pictures 
Genre(s): Action 
Rated: R (For violence and some language)

“3:10 to Yuma” is the long awaited return of the western, and the film makers pull no punches in this movie. Everything you imagined a 20th century western to be is here. There are outstanding gun fights, excellent cinematography, and bad guys with more sweat then a construction worker. There’s only one thing that bothers me in this movie: The movies means of moving the story forward depends on the characters doing really, really stupid things. The stars Christian Bale as Dan Evens, a veteran who fought in the Civil War where he lost his leg in the heat of battle. Evens spends his days trying to make a living for his family, but after skimping on a payment his families barn is burnt to the ground and Evens must now negotiate with the landlord to let him keep his land.

This leads Evens, along with his two sons, to run face-to-face with the notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), who, through a series of unusual circumstances, comes under their custody. Now that Evens has a wanted criminal, it’s time to get him to the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison, where he can collect a generous reward and keep his family fed for one more season. The only question is, how much is Wade willing to go along with this plan? Well, the answer isn’t so easy to answer, as Wade sort of just goes along with the plan. He makes small talk, shares stories with his captors, and is a complete gentleman to Evens wife (save for some questionable table manners). The two men end up sharing a complex relationship, where both men learn more and more about each other the longer the trip goes on.

In another movie these two men would be using each other to get something they wanted. This time around both men seem to strive for something on the matter of principle more then anything else. And for the most part it works, as these two characters end up being very interesting and complex human beings. The problem is, these two men are the ONLY complex people in this movie! Trust me when I say I’m making this movie sound better then it really is. Whenever the movie starts to settle in for some quiet time the movie has to have one of the characters do something stupid to get the action moving. In the movie, Crowe’s character makes it a habit of attacking people when they tick him off. For some reason, it never occurs to anyone to re-cuff Wade’s hands so that they are cuffed behind him instead of in front of him.

Such a simple move would certainly stop the jumps from the horse. Then there’s the matter of flesh wounds. I can understand that Wade can’t be killed or else the men would lose their reward, but why can’t they at least shoot his leg? That would have made the escaping difficult, but since this doesn’t happen Wade escapes no less then three times in this movie. Don’t even get me started on a sherif who shoots an outlaw in the shoulder, and then just stands there while the villain spends a couple minutes figuring out what just happened only to pull out his gun and shoot back . Then you have Evens son, who is one of those sons that basically is there to get in the way and be annoying. Yes, he does help out in a couple of sticky situations, but his ignorance about the danger of the situation grated on my nerves none-the-less.

Am I being picky? Maybe. I confess that Crowe and Bale are very good in this movie, and their stories alone almost make it worth recommending. Yet there are enough times where I slapped my forehead, groaned in embarrassment, and rolled my eyes that I just can’t recommend it. It started out promising, and the climatic shoot out is certainly one to behold, but shoot outs come and go, the stories are what stick with you through the years. The story falters thanks to some huge logic holes, and thus I can’t quite recommend it. On a side note many people who know me know that I am NOT a huge Russell Crowe fan! I’d rather see anyone else playing the roles he gets, and I think almost anyone would do better.

There is a scene in this movie where Evens tells Wade some very personal secrets of his life. When Wade asks Evens why he’s telling him this, Evens responds “because I want you to know I’m not stubborn.” So I share this story with you because I want you to know I’m not stubborn, just honest.