Friday, October 19, 2007

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

* * * * *

Remakes aren't often successful, and typically fail at trying to bring a modern twist to a previous work. 3:10 to Yuma doesn't try anything that groundbreaking or currently fashionable, but sticks solely to what made the film work the first time. The addition of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, two of the best actors avaiable today, was enough of an update. Add in James Mangold as director, fresh off Walk the Line, a stellar supporting cast including Peter Fonda, and some surprising cameo appearances, and 3:10 to Yuma is one of the most enjoyable film experiences of the year. Mangold makes a remake original by employing every cliche of classic westerns until the viewer feels completely immersed in the dangerous, cutthroat atmosphere of the wild west. Christian Bale, who would be cast perfectly in any role, plays Dan Evans, a struggling Civil War veteran family-man trying desperately to make ends meet. When a huge bounty is offered to finally put an end to ruthless outlaw Ben Wade, Evans joins forces to bring Wade to Yuma. Russell Crowe is in full bad-ass mode as Wade and transforms him into a memorable villain both loved and hated. Ben Foster, who may be recognized from HBO's Six Feet Under, steals every scene as Wade's despicable, lunatic sidekick Charlie Prince. These powerful performances, an authentic western score, and the desolate landscapes combine to provide a trip back in time not just to the turn-of-the-century west, but to the fifties when films like this were made. Most directors would throw in a modern soundtrack, excessive violence or choreographed action scenes, but Mangold provides an overload of over-the-top machismo, perfectly timed subtle humor, and classic western shots and angles. The script is genius with amazingly well-crafted dialogue, and intriguing fast-paced plot, and a perfect resolution. Elmore Leonard would be proud of Mangold's Yuma, a respectful, perhaps even better-than-the-original update of a classic film and genre.

Good For: fans of Westerns, any male above age 20, particularly males above age 50, fans of bad-ass villains, people who liked Grindhouse

Bad For: guys who never watched Westerns with their dad, close-minded females

The Gallery
The Economist: * * * *
The Surfer: * * * * *

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