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310 to Yuma
Click for full sized poster

3:10 to Yuma

Starring Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol and Ben Foster
Screenplay by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt & Derek Haas. 
Based on a short story by Elmore Leonard
Directed by James Mangold

IN SHORT: just OK. [Rated R for violence and some language. 117 minutes]

We saw 3:10 to Yuma a couple of days before advertising started showing up on television proclaiming it the greatest Western since Unforgiven. Now we ask: how many Westerns have been made since Unforgiven. We'll wait . . .

While we wait we'll note that this story by Elmore Leonard was first made as a film in 1957, directed by Delmer Daves from a screenplay by Halsted Welles. OK, enough waiting. We're not dissing 3:10 to Yuma as a terrible film, it's just OK and while we left with the feeling we've seen it before, we've seen a lot of b&w westerns on the small screen in the last thirty or so years. It's entirely possible that we saw the original but, if we did, it made as little an impression as this century's successor.

Rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale), crippled in the War Between The States, faces imminent economic disaster. Suffering from drought --the owner of the land his ranch sits on cut off water rights, hoping to force a foreclosure 'cuz the railroad is coming and there's a fortune to be made from getting his land back. Evans leaves wife Alice (Gretchen Mol) and sons Mark (Ben Petry) and William (Logan Lerman) behind and signs on to ride with a posse to deliver wanted killer and train robber Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to a rail link in the town of Contention, where a connection will be made to the train of the title. The posse is led by Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) and includes the local vet, Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk). $200 is the price of the ride, which William sneaks out of house to join.

Heck if we can figure out why. It's pretty much established that William isn't so thrilled about being his dad's son. That, briefly, is all there is to 3:10 to Yuma, which comes at you from the "a lot of talk and then a lot of shooting and then a lot more talk" school of Western making. All that talk means the good guy and the bad guy find new respect for each other .. well, we won't go that far but that's about the speed of this flick which falls into that great Western school for those who haven't grown up on the studio factory produced westerns of the who knows how many decades.

While the posse trudges off to Contention, the remnants of Wade's band of desperadoes led by the only truly dangerous character in the film, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), tracks them and bides their time.

That means a lot of talk on the trail. A couple of shootings involving Indians -- sorry, native Americans -- and bad guys alike. And a lot of talking. You're left with one bad guy knowing that he's broken out of the jail train twice before (and confident of a third) and one good guy determined to ensure delivery of the aforementioned bad guy to said train. The film isn't as legal as all that. It's an OK sit but not the greatest thing since, well, you know.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to 3:10 to Yuma, he would have paid . . .


While we've seen enough cold, hard killers in our time, Ben Foster's supporting role, as small as it is, gave us the creeps. We add his name to a, as of now, very short list of names to be remembered in December. Our personal notes also put Luke Wilson on the screen . . . but you have to know the face since we didn't see a credit. heh heh heh.

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