3:10 to Yuma
Cast: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale
Director: James Mangold
Rating: *** & 1/2
It’s back to the Wild West. After the Oscar-winning success of the Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line (2005), director James Mangold has turned to the near-extinct genre of the western. His remake of the fondly remembered 1957 film of the same name drums up sufficient throb and tension to keep horse opera fans engrossed. It serves as a reminder of the pleasures of a good western and the perils of an era that has almost faded from the memory.
Adapted from an early short story by Elmore Leonard, source also of the original film, the plot pivots around an outlaw (Crowe) and the down-on-his-luck rancher (Bale) who’s determined to deliver him to justice. The backdrop is a rough and tumble Arizona frontier where the rule of the gun prevails.
The rancher desperately needs the $200 he’s offered to ‘escort’ the criminal to the train bound for Yuma prison. He must also redeem himself in the eyes of his eldest son who thinks his father is a coward.
As for the outlaw, whenever he isn’t gunning down the posse, he’s busy quoting the Bible or sketching his surroundings. By the way, Mr. Bad Guy even has a kink for women with green eyes. Go figure.
The battle of wits between the two strong-willed opponents culminates in a helter-skelter shoot-‘em-up at the railway station. In keeping with the current Hollywood trend, the action is at times extremely violent.
When the captive’s trigger-happy henchmen surround the hotel where their boss is detained, it’s the captor who, in effect, finds himself the prisoner.
The townspeople as well as the law-keepers abandon the rancher leaving him to wage the battle alone.
The situation is somewhat similar to Fred Zinnemann’s classic High Noon (1952), but the epic showdown with Gary Cooper remains inimitable.