A rancher agrees to help escort a dangerous outlaw to a train that
will take him to be tried, but the outlaw's gang is catching up to them.
3:10 to Yuma (2007)
Directed by James Mangold
Written by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
Starring Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster,
Logan Lerman, Dallas Roberts, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk,
Kevin Durand, Gretchen Mol, Luke Wilson, Vinessa Shaw
Remake of 1957's 3:10 to Yuma
Based on the short story by Elmore Leonard
Oscar Nominations - Best Original Score (Marco Beltrami),
Best Sound Mixing
3:10 to Yuma was the first straight-up western I ever saw. I remember seeing it in theaters back in 2007 and being introduced to a genre of film entirely different from anything I'd ever seen before. Until that day, my only exposure to the western genre was Back to the Future Part III, which is a great movie by itself, but not the best ambassador for the western. But Yuma was something else. Arguably one of the best remakes of all time and an epic character study of western archetypes. You've got the good-natured rancher versus the sadistic outlaw. But they're so much more than that. Leave it to James Mangold to breathe life back into the western, if only briefly.
After robbing a stagecoach and making an ass out of its owner, vicious outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) is caught by marshals. The plan is to take him to the town of Contention, where he'll be put on the 3:10 train to Yuma to stand trial for murder. Local rancher Dan Evans (Bale) offers to help escort Wade in exchange for money to keep his ranch alive. Along the way, Wade's gang (led by a fantastic, show-stealing Ben Foster) catches up to them, resulting in an intense, action-packed showdown just minutes before the train arrives. Wade and Evans learn from each other, and an understanding is born. A man's honor is a fragile thing.
Bale cranked this out between his first two Batman movies, along with The Prestige and Rescue Dawn. Crowe would knock this out between Cinderella Man and American Gangster. It's one of my favorite films in both men's careers. The film still holds up as one of the best westerns of modern cinema and an early sign that James Mangold was someone to watch.