Russell Crowe and Christian Bale square off in a bloody battle-of-wits in “3:10 to Yuma,” an exciting remake of the 1957 classic that, in many ways, is more cerebral than violent.
Bales is Dan Evans, a rancher who lost one foot serving his country and now makes his living from the land, but a bad drought has ruined his crops. He’s also being pressured off his land by Glen Hollander (Lennie Loftin), who loaned Evans money to get through some hard times. Hollander wants to sell the valuable land to a railroad company, so he pressures Evans to leave by blocking access to the stream and ordering his associates to set fire to the barn.
While heading into town to reason with Hollander, Evans and his sons watch the notorious Ben Wade (Crowe) and his gang rob a Pinkerton stage coach. Since this is the 22nd time that Wade has robbed what are supposed to be secure coaches, Pinkerton employee Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) wants him brought to justice, one way or another.
After reaching town, Wade is captured and Butterfield offers a cash bounty to any man who will escort Wade to Contention, a town 80 miles away where they can put Wade on the prison train to Yuma, which is scheduled to leave at 3:10 the day after tomorrow. Evans volunteers to help watch Wade for $200; he and the other volunteers then make the long trip to Contention, but there are dangers along the way, including Wade’s angry gang of thieves.
Along the trail to Contention, Wade tries to get inside Evans’ head, offering him large bribes and using his love for his family against him. Evans must decide what’s worth more to him, his honor and dignity or the long-term survival of his wife and kids.
With “3:10 to Yuma,” director James Mangold (“Kate & Leopold”) has created an intelligent Western that turns into a battle of wills between two men who are more alike than either wants to admit.
As Ben Wade, Russell Crowe takes control of every situation, even when he’s wearing handcuffs. Wade has an eerie understanding of human psychology and uses that knowledge to get out of some tight spots. Christian Bale’s character, on the other hand, has to go a long way to recover the pride and manhood that he lost when Army surgeons removed his foot. Each time Ben Wade tempts or taunts him, Dan Evans struggles to do the right thing.
Crowe and Bale are amazing together on-screen, which makes it important for you to get to the theater in time to see this exceptional film.
“3:10 to Yuma” is rated R for violence and some language.