Russell Crowe and Christian Bale star in the western 3:10 To Yuma, a remake of the genre classic. It hit theatres in late 2007 and made a nice sum of money before riding off to the distance, accumulating a host of praise for its gritty acting, tight plot, and great direction. But now, it’s made its way to home video, where, undoubtedly, it will flourish. And does it deserve to? Well, with both Crowe and Bale given excellent performances, a great story, and a ridiculously tense finale, this movie definitely deserves to be checked out. Easily one of the best westerns in years, 3:10 To Yuma is makes you hold on tight until the very end. But let’s get that synopsis out of the way so we can break this movie down a bit.
In Arizona in the late 1800s, infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his vicious gang of thieves and murderers have plagued the Southern Railroad. When Wade is captured, Civil War veteran Dan Evans (Bale), struggling to survive on his drought-plagued ranch, volunteers to deliver him alive to the 3:10 to Yuma, a train that will take the killer to prison. During the grueling expedition, Evans and Wade, each from very different worlds, begin to earn each other’s respect. However, with Wade’s posse on their trail, the mission soon becomes a violent, impossible journey toward each man’s destiny.
When looking at the film, there is so much to like. The acting team is solid across the board, the directing is great, the cinematography is excellent (and usually beautiful, painting us a vision of the country in a way we haven’t seen it in over a century), and the action is tense. It’s a great action film laced with a gripping story. I could really be done with the review right now, because that sums up what is so great about this movie, and why it’s a movie that I would recommend (and have).
So, I guess the place to start would be the actors. Bale and Crowe get top-billing in an already robust cast, but there’s also more than a couple of surprises here, in terms of the acting talent. Now, Crowe and Bale deserve the acclaim. Crowe is absolutely sinister in this movie, every step of the way you can feel his character and the fear he generates much like you can feel the turmoil Bale’s character is going through. But, as a bonus, we get a Peter Fonda as a bounty hunter, doing an impeccable job before being dispatched in a pretty shocking moment. However, the true surprise, to me, has to be Ben Foster as Crowe’s second in command, Charlie Prince. A sadistic, crazy young man, Foster brings such unpredictability to his a role, a role that literally has you glued to the set when his character appears because you just don’t know what he’s going to do. He’s obviously unhitched and he enjoying every minute of it. I won’t ruin the ending, but the final scene between Crowe and Foster is an emotional rollercoaster. It’s so superbly handled from start to finish.
Director James Mangold manages to keep everything together. This could have been an unwieldy film, but Mangold is able to keep every plot point in check, having everything to lead up to what seems to be a perfect, albeit tragic, ending. While I thought the synopsis for the movie, with each character hurtling toward their “destiny” seemed a bit cheesy, Mangold actually makes it work, making it seem natural and inevitable. Thankfully, he manages to throw in some shocks and some great twists to keep viewer son the edge of their seat. There’s a couple twists I didn’t see coming, twists that actually enhance the final fates of the two main characters. Everything comes full circle, and hidden motivation really does add to the emotional pay-off of the movie itself. Mangold really does handle this film on a near-flawless level.
It’s an emotional punch of a movie, and it’s handled expertly on every level. Whether it’s the great score, the beautiful cinematography, the great acting, the plot, or the brisk pace (despite being over two hours in length), Mangold has crafted a great film boosted by superb acting jobs all around. If there were any flaws to this film, I would surely list them, but I can’t find a single one. Mangold knows when to let the movie rest, he knows when to shock us (there are more than a couple shocking scenes where we see the true evil behind Crowe’s character), and he knows when to let emotion bubble up, and he knows how to keep us on the edge of our seat. All of this comes together for what proves to be a hell of a rollercoaster ride and a Must See western.
The DVD comes packages in a standard Amaray DVD case, housed in a cardboard slipcase. The artwork on the slipcase, a colorized version of one of the theatrical posts, is identical to both the actual DVD case art and the disc art. The audio and video is top-notch, nearly flawless for both. The video was crystal clear and the audio was loud and boisterous, even though the dialogue was sometimes low. Still, a great standard DVD transfer.
The extras for the standard DVD release are pretty solid, though please note that the Blu-Ray edition does contain more bonus features. The disc starts off with an informative commentary by director James Mangold. After that we have seven deleted scenes totaling almost eight minutes, most of which is just dropped dialogue. After that we have three more extras, starting with the making-of documentary “Destination Yuma,” chronicling how the movie came together. The final two extras take a look at the Old West itself and is something history buffs in particular should find interest in. It’s a nice collection of bonus material worthy of the main feature.
Overall, both the main feature and the DVD extras come Highly Recommended. There hasn’t been a western movie this good in years! Like I said, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this film, as every aspect works. The acting, the story, the directing, all of comes together to give one amazing ride from start to finish. Plus, toss in some actual, genuine surprises, and you have a film that’ll not only keep you on the edge of your seat, but also emotionally engaged in the story. There’s such an unpredictable nature to the film, a nature that lasts to the very last reel. 3:10 To Yuma is a great addition to the western genre and anyone’s collection.
3:10 To Yuma is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. 3:10 To Yuma is distributed through Maple Pictures in Canada and Lionsgate Pictures in the US.