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"3:10 to Yuma"

Directed by James Mangold.
Written by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas.  Based on the 1957 film of the same name, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard.
Starring Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster and Peter Fonda.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  8/1/07

Folks--

Kind of like my dad, I do loves me some Westerns...so, when I saw the trailer for "3:10 to Yuma" a couple of months ago, I was interested in "hangin' out."  The DC Film Society had a screening for the film tonight (it opens in early September) and even got actors Peter Fonda and Ben Foster (from "Hostage" and "Alpha Dog", playing crazy bad guys in both) to do a Q&A session after our screening tonight.  I didn't stay too long for the Q&A, mainly because I thought the movie was just okay.

Based on a film from 50 years ago, "3:10 to Yuma" doesn't stray from the original's storyline: a poor rancher named Dan (Christian Bale), faced with the pending eviction of his family from their Arizona home, takes a job escorting a bank robber and renowned killer, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), to make enough money to save his home...but, this Wade guy has a pretty dangerous posse of friends who are hell-bent on rescuing their boss, led by the absolutely insane Charlie Prince (Foster).  Dan and a few others have to get Ben on the 3:10 train to the Yuma Prison the next day, so they've got their work cut out for them between a tight time schedule, Charlie and the rest of Dan's gang, and the freakin' Apaches!!!

"3:10 to Yuma" is a western where the bodies get stacked up pretty good; certainly a change over how the original film must have been made--without having even seen it myself--is that this new version of the movie has a lot of people get all bloodied up to earn it an R rating.  Crowe seems to be enjoying himself in this part; it's rare that you get to see Crowe playing a version of himself after acting his way through the majority of his roles in "Cinderella Man" or "A Beautiful Mind" or "The Insider."  No, here, he's just a guy, and besides faking an American accent, he is asked mostly to shoot a lot of people and ham it up on occasion.  Bale is once again quite strong, but the majority of this cast is not, certainly not at the caliber of performing that director James Mangold got out of his last set of stars in "Walk the Line." 

But, while the acting is so-so and the plot feels familiar as all get-out (we even get good guys dropping until we're down to just our principals), the scenery is beautiful and the action is not too shabby.  Six-shooters, shotguns, rifles and Gatling guns make the heart grow fonder, and all of them get fired a lot in "3:10 to Yuma" during the film's fairly consistent action scenes.  I don't know how different these are from the original film's sequences, but here, they are quite strong.  And, naturally, that final shootout as the train rolls into town is money in the bank.

The main weakness in "3:10 to Yuma" is the characters; none of them is really that compelling, although I will admit that I was playing out how my life might be if I was a poor rancher with a hot wife at home and two kids who were always making fun of me.  That's what makes "Deadwood" such a great show on HBO; the characters are mostly excellent, and you can't beat a well-rounded bastard like Al Swearengen when you need him.  Hey, you can't have it all in life, but I was hoping that this movie was going to be just a bit better.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09