Thursday, February 21, 2008

3:10 to Yuma

Christian Bale plays a down on his luck rancher named Dan Evans. His spread is getting ready to be foreclosed on and sold. So Evans decides to take his chances in bringing outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to justice for $200 promised to him by an official from the stage coach line Wade has brutally victimized. The bad news is no one wants to help Evans out of fear of reprisal from his gang led by Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). Evans soon finds himself in over his head.

Crowe plays Wade as a charming, somewhat intelligent man even flirts with the idea of running off to Mexico with barmaid (Vinessa Shaw from the legendary Ladybugs). Crowe is at the top of his game, but there isn't a whole lot he or Bale can do with their characters. For such a long film (two hours... and it feels longer), you neither learn anything remarkable about them nor do you get a lot of action. Ben Foster has the flashy role of the expert gunfighter, but it is hard to take someone serious in that way when he looks like a stiff breeze could knock him off his horse. Peter Fonda is a highlight though as the cagey old hired mercenary assigned to guarding the stage line.

Director James Mangold (Walk the Line, Copland) seems trapped in the narrow restraints of the original. This movie begs for the streamlined approach. There is way too much exposition in the story, which causes a lag in several spots. Couple that with an idiot ending and you are forced to not really enjoy the experience. Mangold echoed this film in modern times for Copland, but he gets lost here. I wanted to like this film...


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