Archive for the ‘james mangold’ Category

3:10 to Yuma (2007)

September 26, 2007

Some might claim that the traditional western died at the end of John Wayne’s career in the 70’s. But while it has been on the decline, it is still alive and doing well (See Unforgiven and The Proposition). While 3:10 to Yuma is a remake, it still fits in today by showing the moral dilemma’s that we can face when questions of justice arise.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is the leader of a gang of outlaws and is captured by a small town. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a struggling rancher in that town and in need of money agrees to help transport Wade for the 3:10 train to Yuma and, of course, Wade’s gang is not going to see him taken without a fight. But the real story is the struggle of wills as the audience wonders about the moral qualities and fortitude of both men.

The west provides a great setting to have a heightened dialogue about the meaning of justice and moral good. With the absence of modern bureaucracy, the wilderness becomes a place where justice is in the hands of the people, it is no longer an abstraction. So, as always a gunfight must ensue as justice needs to be pursued or destroyed at all cost. The conversations about what is truly good is what makes this film worth watching.

Greg P. Veltman

3:10 to Yuma intentionally blurs the line between the good guys and the bad guys in the telling of what on the surface is a traditional western yarn. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is the hero, a dirt poor farmer looking to earn the money he needs to keep his farm afloat and support his wife and sickly son. Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is the villainous mass-murderer whom Evans is hired to transport to the eponymous train. Evans, while acting on noble intentions and exhibiting great courage, is not a typical hero. He is in constant need of rescue by none other than the apparently black-hearted Wade, who goes to great lengths to keep his captor alive. Throwing this quirk into the formula allows the filmmakers to deliver the en vogue message for contemporary westerns: the line between good and evil is far more nebulous than we would care to admit.

-Nate Campbell

rotten tomatoes