It’s been a long time since I was so thoroughly impressed by a film that I actually immediately told four or five people about how great it was. With extreme ease, 3:10 to Yuma was able to break this lull in exclamatory praise for a film and it did so from the opening frames of the film. It became quickly evident why 3:10 to Yuma garnered such praise, as it rivets the viewer from beginning to end, never letting up for more than a few brief minutes before throwing us into another tense situation caused by Ben Wade (Crowe).
When Ben Wade hangs back in a local town after hijacking an armored carriage full of money, his decision ends up costing him. With the carriage being the latest in a string of robberies, he had a high bounty on his head and it didn’t take long to round up a crew to escort him to the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison. Despite having a sturdy crew, Wade slowly picked them off one by one until only a few remained, including one man named Dan Evans (Bale) who wouldn’t fail his job no matter if it meant the loss of his life.
There are so many incredible things to talk about in this movie; it’s hard to decide where to begin. It seems when I truly enjoy a movie as much as I did with 3:10 to Yuma, I freeze when I try to think of the elements of the film I enjoyed most. Once you start replaying the film over in your head, however, you begin to recount all the elements that made the film great—the scenery, the directing, the story and, of course, the actors. I don’t think I’ve been impressed by a lineup like this in a long time.
While the film only touts Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as the big names of the film, plenty of others adorn this western. Peter Fonda as Byron McElroy, Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Gretchen Mol as Alice Evans are just a few of the cast that make this film so robust. Each one of the characters is wonderfully fleshed out, so much so that even Foster’s role as the ruthless Prince becomes someone to root for, despite the audience’s obvious attachment to Dan Evans survival. It’s an incredibly powerful film that appreciates its actors from beginning to end and the directing by James Mangold is simply flawless.
Other things that made the film so enjoyable was its brisk pace. While we did get a few campfire scenes that let us slow down and catch our breath, the gun fights in the film were so intense that you were often on the edge of your seat during every one of them. In particular, the final shootout at the end of the film was absolutely intense, something that was only compounded upon by the trains booming entrance at the cusp of the film.
Without spoiling too much about the film, the performances by Crowe and Bale were absolutely terrific. The unlikely bond the two formed and the situation that Wade allowed himself to be put in towards the end of the film showed sides of Wade that many of his own crew would have never believed. Bale proved to be one of the more compassionate and caring fathers to be portrayed on screen in a long time and the end of the film was a real gut punch, regardless if you saw it coming or not.
Also worth mentioning was the cinematography and score used in the film. While the score rarely leapt out at you, it added prominence to more than one scene, with the final shootout being the strongest example and the thundering thumps in the background as Wade stared at his own men. On top of the music was the absolutely gorgeous scenery in the film, adding the a real western frontier feel to the entire movie that never felt tacked on or fake in any way.
In more ways than one, 3:10 to Yuma is the pinnacle film. While it is without a doubt one of the best westerns to be made, it is also a remarkable story about a core group of characters and also one of the most well done action movies I’ve seen. It’s a really remarkable film and it’s the first movie since Pan’s Labyrinth that I’ve felt so strongly about. Must See.
Arriving in a standard DVD case with a slipcover and no insert, 3:10 to Yuma uses one of the theatrical posters created for the film, although not the one I enjoyed the most. Granted, the one I like is the one that appears to have Ben Foster’s character taking center stage, which is odd for a film with starpower like Crowe and Bale, but it does simply look awesome. Still, the art used here is a variant of the black and white Crowe/Bale theatrical poster and looks good for the most part. The same art is repeated for the disc art; DVD menus are animated and easy to navigate.
The video transfer on this DVD is simply magnificent. I didn’t notice a single flaw and I was amazed at the level of detail that was packed into some of the sequences. On top of the superb video transfer we received a jam packed Dolby Surround EX 5.1 track that rocked the house on more than one occasion. Almost every bullet fired in the film was defined with a thud from the subwoofer and the arrival of the train was room shaking—it quite literally did sound and feel like a train was coming into the room. I did find that the dialogue in the film was a bit on the quiet side, so much so I had to up the volume past normal levels to properly hear everything, which only made the bass response that much louder— nothing I really object to, mind you, although my neighbors might have.
Moving onto the extras we first have a commentary by directors James Mangold, who manages to keep the track informative and interesting throughout. As with all solo tracks it can get a bit dull or empty at times, but for the most part Mangold is able to keep the viewer entertained with more than a few details about the making of the film and what it was like to work in the locations the film used. After the commentary we have seven deleted scenes (7:54), all of which range from a minute to a scant 39 seconds. Most of the deleted scenes are pieces of dialogue rather than completely dropped scenes, but they’re nice inclusions here and really were just removed as they were unnecessary and would’ve hurt the pacing of the film.
Finally on the set we have two documentaries and a featurette. First is “Destination Yuma” (20:57), a making-of that features plenty of cast and crew interviews as well as behind the scenes footage, which gives us a glimpse into how the film came to be and what the experience was like to make it. “Outlaws, Gangs and Posses – Documentary “(12:58) details the history of the wild west, while “An Epic Explored” (6:21) covers a bit of the history of the western film.
While a bit light on the extras, the inclusion of the commentary and making-of documentaries and deleted scenes are about all you could ask for from a DVD. The extras manage to be informative as well as quick and to the point, which is something I’m always grateful—not all films require hour long documentaries and 3:10 to Yuma certainly manages to get away with the minimalistic approach in this case. Even though the extras are few, they’re all worth watching and there’s really nothing more a fan of the film could ask for on this set. Highly Recommended.
3:10 to Yuma is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.