Sunday, January 25, 2009

"3:10 to Yuma"

You either like westerns or you don't, and if you fall into the latter category, then "3:10 to Yuma" probably won't do much for you, even if you do appreciate good acting and solid film making.

But if you do like westerns, then this is one that you shouldn't miss. It's hardly original (it is a remake, after all, though since I've never seen the original I can't say whether it's a remake in name only), and it's got many of the key ingredients that you'll find in many another western: the stolid, quiet hero; the charismatic villain; the old bounty hunter; the virtuous wife; the brave young son; the evil railroad man; the psychopathic gunslinger...and that may not be all.

The story is simple - bad guy is caught, group of "good guys" (more or less) are charged with taking him to another town, to catch the prison train - the "3:10 to Yuma" of the movie's title. And, of course, bad guy's gang is hot on the trail, willing to do anything and everything to stop their boss from being put on the train. And for good measure, there's more evil railroad men on the route, not to mention a band of angry Indians.

A good recipe, and the ingredients are strong - Christian Bale is good as the stolid good guy, although he doesn't get to do much in the way of emoting. Russell Crowe is predictably great, turning a juicy part that might have become a joke in the hands of a lesser actor into something that's genuinely affecting - the bad guy with honor and a conscience. The rest of the cast is uniformly good, and it was nice to recognize Peter Fonda - although it only took me about half the movie to do so.

The movie culminates in a shoot-out involving just about the entire town that requires a bit of believe suspension, but is certainly rousing. The ending is open to interpretation and discussion, but however you think things are going to turn out, it's a satisfying one.

All in all, very good. If you like westerns and/or good acting, "3:10 to Yuma" is well worth the time.

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