Tuesday, September 25, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

You know you've probably done a movie right when my wife actually likes a Western ... a violent one, no less. The charisma of one of it's main stars, Russell Crowe, is a big reason why. She actually agreed to go see this movie on a "date" night.

3:10 to Yuma is the story of a down on his luck rancher, Christian Bale as Dan Evans, who agrees to accompany a ruthless killer, Russell Crowe as Ben Wade, to Yuma to get on a train and to stand trial. A road movie of sorts -- both characters go through a sort of transformation through the adventures they experience on the trip.

3:10 certainly owes something to recent so-called "revisionist" Westerns like Unforgiven and The Proposition. They all do a great job of turning the classic Western motifs of good and bad / black and white on their heads. Life is shades of gray. I'm guessing W might not like this movie. He likes his Westerns cut and dried - Bush as John Wayne, terrorists taking the places of Indians. Never mind that we are taking those Indians land or are trying to make them more like us. I probably overuse this quote from Unforgiven, but it's one of my favorites and very apropos to this movie:

Munny: "It's a hell of a thing, killin' a man. You take away all he's got, and all he's ever gonna have."

Kid: "Yeah, well I guess they had it comin'."

Munny: "We all have it coming, kid."

Even if you don't think you like Westerns, go see this movie. It's themes of loyalty, honesty and family transcend the genre. The quality of the acting is consistent. Most notably, Crowe, Bale, Alan Tudyk (of Serenity) and Ben Foster as the light-in-the-loafer sidekick to Crowe's Ben Wade.

3:10 to Yuma's based on an Elmore Leonard story (the same guy that wrote Get Shorty, Jackie Brown and Out of Sight). It has a lot of the same moral ambiguity of those stories.

Crowe's character is so charming, intelligent and confident, you are forced to like him whereas you see Bale's character's faults and failures - as he sees his own. Do these characters ultimately redeem themselves and does the movie do a good job of handling it? I believe so, but you be the judge.

The movie is beautifully shot. I guess the biggest surprise of the movie is the dark humor. Not forced punchline type humor, mind you. But rather humor borne of the strange interaction between the characters. I highly recommend this movie. Grade: A

"Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends" -- Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring


wunelle said...

Excellent. I've been thinking of seeing this flick for a couple weeks.

Not even Russell Crowe is enough to lure my wife into a movie like this one, but you can't please everyone!

Laura said...

Hm, this is a Western I might actually like then. I like Unforgiven and Tombstone and Silverado, but don't typically go for the "classic" westerns.

dbackdad said...

I'm not really a westerns-type guy. I grew up on them because my dad was (whose dad isn't?) but I was too young to appreciate the artistry of the Eastwood spaghetti westerns or the Wild Bunch.

The westerns you mentioned were all great, as was Dances with Wolves, because they were character driven and deconstructed the classic western. Kilmer's Doc Holliday in Tombstone was among his best acting jobs ever.

Crowe is really good in 3:10. I've actually liked him in everything he's ever done. For all the accolades he gets, I still think he's underrated and doesn't get enough gredit for his work in movies like The Insider. I'm really looking forward to seeing American Gangster. That's a dream pairing with Denzel Washington.

wunelle said...

American Gangster? What's that? (shuffling off to look at IMDB)

Val Kilmer in Tombstone was indeed a revelation. That turned my opinion of him around 180 degrees (I'm sure he was relieved!).

I've come to like some of the classic John Wayne movies as well, which is a small shift for me. I like the phenomenon of him on the screen. Russell Crowe has that same bigger-than-life-ness about him.

Sadie Lou said...

My parents, who have generally the same taste in movies as I do, said they thought the actors were "sleepwalking" through this film. I *LOVE* Christian bale--Crowe, not so much.
This will make my rental list but I doubt I'd go pay to see it. Your review has made me reconsider my first thought to skip it. Good job!

dbackdad said...

Wunelle -- I was weaned on John Wayne movies and rebelled against any respect for them until later in life. There was certainly an undeniable charisma for him but I was a young adult of the 90's and fought against the Reagan/Wayne image of the 80's. In the words of Chuck D (Fight the Power):

"... Simple and plain
Motherfuck him (Elvis) and John Wayne ..."

I dug the Westerns that took more from Kurasawa (Magnificent Seven, Wild Bunch) than John Ford.

Sadie -- I'm with you on Bale (though not in a man-crush type way. lol). We've talked about him before quite a bit.

His role in this movie is meant to be understated so as to be a counterpoint to Crowe's flambouyant character. I felt these two actors played the roles exactly the way they should have.

Sadie Lou said...

I would hate to ever be disappointed in Bale. I adore him.

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