3:10 To Yuma
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster
Costarring: Logan Leman, Dallas Roberts, Peter Fonda, Vinessa Shaw, Gretchen Mol
Times Watched: 1
RT / Metacritic: 88%/76
Road To Ownership: Don’t ask me! I think sometimes the boyfriend looks at previously viewed DVDs and just snaps some up that he thinks he’ll like or wants to watch or wants to buy just to get the special deal with. I’m guilty of the same thing, but not as often as he is.
The Plot: Dan Evans and his two young boys are out to settle the score with some debt collectors when they come across the notorious thief and posse leader Benjamin Wade. A series of chance encounters and a desperate bid to do well by his family leads Dan to join a small contingent of folks that are leading Benjamin Wade to the town of Contention, where he’s set to put on the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. Of course, Ben’s posse is having none of this and both Ben and his gang of ruffians will do anything to get him free.
The Good & The Bad: I know I watched movies out of order – 40 Days & 40 Nights should have come first – but thank god I did because I got this amazingly random Easter egg. The chick that plays Josh’s ex Nicole is the same chick that basically unintentionally leads to Benjamin Wade’s capture after a bedroom encounter! Vinessa Shaw. The whole time she was on the screen I kept on thinking…is that her? It has to be her…it’s totally her?
Anyway moving on. I wasn’t really looking forward to watching this movie, but I didn’t hate it either. The dialogue was certainly more interestingly written than the last action flick we watched (300) and the characters more snappy. Part of what made the film enjoyable was the cast. In my books it was all-star but really obscurely so. Alpha from Dollhouse! Keamy from Lost! A kid that looks like Jack’s kid from Lost but is really from Percy Jackson & The Olympians! Tucker from the original 90’s Flash Forward / Get Over It! Nicole from 40 Days & 40 Nights! Luke Wilson! Seeing these characters in such wildly different scenarios from where I knew them was a treat. That being said, many of them felt like bumps in the road (McElroy in particular) compared to the ultimate tension between Ben, Dan, and William.
The movie is reminiscent of several films – most notably it’s kind of the Western answer to ‘No Country For Old Men’ (re: the main character running into a situation he shouldn’t that ultimately leads him down a tragic path), and ‘Road to Perdition’ (re: doing everything you can to stand by your family, with your son following in your footsteps). Something about it reminded me of another film as well but I can’t put my finger on what – I’m sure I’ve seen another movie about the strange dynamics between the captor and captive. It’s not quite as whizzbang tense as other films I’ve seen, but the pacing is solid enough that you feel uneasy throughout about the ultimate outcome.
The boyfriend and I agreed that the ending didn’t feel quite right. The evolution of Crowe’s character felt a little bit topsy-turvy and underdeveloped, although he played a surprisingly excellent viper of a villain – calm, smooth, and cocky masking a vicious underlayer, and a realistic one under that. The other performances were decent, but sometimes it was hard to separate the actors from the other places I knew them from (in particular, Keamy had a pretty horrid southern accent).
I liked, or should I say tolerated, this movie more than I thought I would, but I’m sceptical that I’ll ever watch it again. One thing I will point out is that I found the entire movie, particularly in the beginning, to feel jarringly modern. The language, delivery, and even content of the script felt very 21st century, which took away from getting invested in a Western film and its timeline. See: the opening scene with Dan’s wife discussing how they should be making financial decisions together. Isn’t this the 19th century?
Best Scene: The movie is sort of one big continuous flow, so it’s hard to single out specific scenes that were standouts. I liked the final opportunity Ben gave Dan, and how Dan rejected it but still made it happen in a different sense. Understanding Ben’s motives and willingness towards the end was interesting as well, but that didn’t come from one scene – it was many little bits.
Worst Scene: I got irritated by the stupid guy in the wagon getting torched and giving up the info on Contention. It wasn’t a badly acted scene, just kind of an obvious one from a plot standpoint that was full of holes, including the gang telling Charlie they should give up and him insisting they were going onwards anyway. Also I would NOT have wanted to be the person who had to pretend to be Wade in the wagon. Why wouldn’t they leave the damn thing unlocked for him?
Best Character: I surprisingly liked Russell Crowe’s portrayal of Benjamin Wade, jaunty hat and all.
Worst Character: Although he plays a creepy mercenary better than anyone on the planet, the guy who portrayed Tucker (and Keamy on Lost) had a bad accent, so he takes the cake here. I also felt like Ben Foster’s ‘Charlie’ was a little overdone sometimes.
Soundtrack of our Lives: I liked the opening score a lot – the sort of mystic zen meets Western desert guitar strumming. It sort of took on typical Western scoring from there.
If You Like This You’ll Like: Films on a similar theme like No Country for Old Men and Road to Perdition. Also the bevy of modern-day westerns out there, like The Assassination of Jesse James.
FINAL GRADE: 2.5/5