3:10 to Yuma confirms that the western is alive and kicking with a vengeance.
A re-make of the 1957 film starring Glen Ford and Van Heflin (which was based on a short story by Elmore Leonard), 3:10 to Yuma stars Christian Bale as Dan Evans, a struggling rancher and disfigured Civil War veteran, who has lost the respect of his wife Alison (Gretchen Mol) and adolescent son Will (Logan Lerman).
Russell Crowe co-stars as Ben Wade, a notorious, intelligent, cold blooded outlaw who -along with his dedicated crew- just ripped off thousands of dollars from the railroads.
After Wade is cornered and captured in a nearby town, Evans agrees - for a fee and his family's respect - to help transport Wade to the town of Contention, where he is to board the 3:10 train to Yuma prison.
Along the way Evans must fight off the advances of Wade's crew, while not falling for Wade's psychological traps.
This is a great follow up by director James Mangold, who helmed the excellent 2005 Johnny Cash biopic, Walk the Line. Like that film, this energetic western features exceptional performances by its cast, especially from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, two of the more prolific and best actors working today.
Crowe brings his trademark brooding intensity, coupled with a smouldering ferocity not seen from him since L.A. Confidential. Meanwhile, Bale continues to excel in restraint as the equally pitiful and heroic rancher who is seeking respect and redemption.
However, it is Ben Foster who steals the movie as Charlie Prince, Wade's right hand man who contains a fierce loyalty and a seething murderous rage, which Foster nicely keeps in check, never going over the top with such villainous foil. Peter Fonda also turns in a fine performance as a grizzled bounty hunter.
Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael provides strong, vibrant images, capturing the vast landscapes of the films New Mexico location.
Complementing the films environment are the excellent costumes by Arianne Phillips, whose well detailed touches (especially Ben Foster's off-white leather jacket and Russel Crowe's bowl hat), remind of the various character enriched costumes worn by the gunslingers featured in Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. Marco Beltrani's pulsating, doom laden score is also excellent.
The film contains a number of great (albeit unbelievable) shootouts, especially during the films final moments. These moments are counter balanced with a moody atmosphere, brought on by the films psychological elements.
This manifests itself beautifully during a dinner scene (which are fast becoming a favourite of mine), as Wade gleefully plays mind games with Evans and his family. Crowe excels in these scenes, his devilish charm (which is not used enough in his films) causing the viewer to find themself drawn in by his charisma.