Wednesday, November 13, 2013

3:10 To Yuma ★★★★

     A good western film in the 21st century is extremely hard to come by. James Mangold's "3:10 To Yuma" is one of the very few exceptions. "3:10 To Yuma" is a 2007 western drama based on the short story written by Elmore Leonard, which was originally published by Dime Western Magazine in 1953. A movie was originally made in 1957, and this 2007 version is a new spin on the classic film that was produced fifty years prior.

     "3:10 To Yuma" begins on a dark and dreary night in the old west. We find the protagonist, Dan Evans, startled from his sleep with good reason. A group of men working for a lender, in the near town of Bisbee, proceed to burn down his barn and warn him that he only has a week to pay back a debt of his. This situation instills resentment in Dan's older son, William, and a sense of failure in himself.

    We come to find out that Dan is a Civil War veteran who lost his leg in the war, and who later borrowed money to pay for his family's needs when a drought decimated his Arizona ranch. The next morning, Dan and his two sons leave the ranch in order to round up the cattle that were frightened off the night before by the fire. Unfortunately for Dan and his sons, they stumble upon a robbery in progress initiated by Ben Wade and his "wild bunch." This fateful meeting will lead Dan Evans and Ben Wade on a harrowing journey to their respected destinies.

     The characters in a western film are different from most genres. They are strictly a product of their environment, and the actors have to play their roles having virtually no idea how these 19th-century individuals really lived. The cast of "3:10 To Yuma" excel in all areas and give Oscar worthy performances. Dan Evans is played by the multi-talented actor Christian Bale, who found enough time to film this movie while not interfering with his role as Batman. (I am truly grateful that he did.) Bale triggers his inner sensibility and delivers a heartfelt performance centered around a man who has lost the respect of his family due to his inability to provide. Dan Evans stands by his morals and is proud to live off an honest living. He cares deeply for his family, and he is a testament for every man to inspire to be.

     Russell Crowe steps into the role of the ruthless gunslinger Ben Wade; Wade is an intelligent, cunning, and violent individual, who leads an outfit of men to sin and prosperity. He makes a living by robbing stagecoaches with seemingly relative ease. Crowe is brilliant in this particular role and shows that he can be a menacing villain. Although Wade is a thief and murderer, he does express faith in a higher power and shows a slight sense of empathy toward Evans. Some other notable roles in this film include Peter Fonda who plays Bryon McElroy, an employee of Pinkerton security, who was escorting the stagecoach in the opening robbery by Ben Wade. Even at an older age, Fonda delivers an inspiring and electric performance. Ben Foster plays Charlie Prince, the loyal and faithful sidekick to Ben Wade. Foster shows shades of brilliance and performs well in one of his most notable roles to date.

    Most westerns concentrate on long and rather tedious plot deterring shootouts; however, this film is most concentrated on the characters and their needs. In essence, "3:10 To Yuma" is a classic tale of the old west that serves well as a re-make. The direction and script are exceptional and are carried out to perfection by a superb cast. This is a dark and strikingly relevant film to humankind and the theory of destiny. We all face this controversy many times throughout our lives; questioning why we are here and what our purpose is on this Earth. To answer these questions, we must first look within ourselves. To quote the brilliant George Harrison, "Try to realize it's all within yourself, no one else can make you change."              

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