Monday, October 27, 2008

3:10 to Yuma

3:10 To Yuma
Originally uploaded by patchdrury
I am a self-described Christian Bale junkie. As such it is a wonder that I have a few films in my collection starring Bale that I have not yet watched. This needed to be rectified so I began by pulling out my copy of 3:10 to Yuma which I received as a birthday present last February even though I had never seen it.

I actually do have quite a few movies in my collection that I have never seen, but the funy thing is that I attempted to see 3:10 to Yuma when it was in the theatre – it just didn’t want to see me. Between projection problems and the print being uncared for the film broke twice in the first five minutes and I walked out refusing to sit through a movie I really wanted to see knowing that it would probably keep having glitches all the way through; but I digress, I received it about nine months ago and for some reason it has sat on my DVD shelf ever since. What can I say? I have a DVD collection that numbers in the triple digits.

3:10 to Yuma is a remake, but do not count that against it. The film is one of the most moving, poignant westerns I have ever seen. While I have not seen the original I cannot imagine weighing this version of 3:10 to Yuma against anything but itself it is that good. This is an action film/western that is actually very moving character piece about two men and how the choices they have made in their lives have led up to the moment they meet each other – each man changes the other in an indelible way.

The film centers around two very different characters, Ben Wade is a ruthless outlaw known for robbery and murder who is in charge of an equally ruthless gang and Dan Evans is a civil war vet who lost his leg to the war and has spent his time since caring for his family on a ranch in Arizona. Dan is perpetually down on his luck and feels the constant wane of his families respect. The two men come in contact when Ben robs a armored carriage near Dan’s ranch. Dan later goes into Bisbee (the nearby town) and inadvertently runs into Ben again and manages to help in his arrest. From then Dan agrees to help the group assigned to take Ben to Conviction city where they can get him on the train to Yuma prison. Ben goes along knowing that at any time he can outsmart the men and that his gang will be tracking him down. However, what he does not expect it to be so fascinated by Dan and through the journey though the two men do not really like each other they develop a kind of mutual empathy for the other which causes Dan to finally want to do the right thing to make his children proud of him and watching Dan changes Ben forever.

This is a western in the truest since and you can feel the dirt and grime that shooting on location created. James Mangold manages to take a very action filled story and turn it into a character piece about a good man who is down on his luck and a man who appears to be rotten to the core who turns out to have a little bit of good left in him. The action in the film is spectacular, but more than anything Mangold manages to make you interested in these characters which is something so many action movies seem to forget about.

I could watch Christian Bale read the dictionary, but I truly believe he is one of the best actors of our times and he again proves how capable he is of disappearing into a role in this film. I’ve heard directors speak about Bale and say that the best thing about him is that he isn’t as interested in the trappings of the script but that the character changes throughout it, and I think you can tell in his performace that he truly dedicates himself to this transformation.

Even if you don’t think you like westerns I implore you to take a chance on 3:10 to Yuma. The film is worth your time. After this film and Walk the Line, I am very excited to see where James Mangold will take me next.

Director: James Mangold
Writers: Halsted Wells, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas
Ben Wade: Russell Crowe
Dan Evans: Christian Bale
William Evans: Logan Lerman
Grayson Butterfield: Dallas Roberts
Charlie Prince: Ben Foster
Byron McElroy: Peter Fonda
Doc Potter: Alan Tudyk
Alice Evans: Gretchen Mol

Dan Evans: I've been standin’ on one leg for three damn years waitin’ for God to do me a favor... and He ain't listenin.

No comments: