3.10 To Yuma

Production Co: Relativity Media
Director: James Mangold
Writer: Michael Brandt/Derek Haas/Elmore Leonard
Cast: Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol, Luke Wilson
Unlike the poetic charms of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, which is also in cinemas as I speak, James Mangold's reimagining of the 1957 classic is a much more old-style western, ruminating less on the price of violence on a man's soul than the cinematic thrills that can be achieved from it.

It's a principles story, where only one man – rancher Dan (Bale) – has the courage to see his task through to the end even when he faces certain failure, and the effect it has on a son who finds the romantic image of the gentleman robber Ben (Crowe) much more alluring.

In that sense 3.10 to Yuma is clever in contemporising the story to the era and it's strangely affecting to any adult struggling to pay the bills and the mortgage and put food on their kids' table, all the while watching their kids idolise Hollywood stars and rock singers who've never had to lift a finger in a day's work.

But it's just as effective as an action piece as Dan is charged with bringing the captured outlaw to the train that will take him to Yuma prison, trying to stay one step ahead of Ben's fearsome gang bringing up the rear and out of the way of the obstacles ahead.

On the way as their entourage is lost to fate and circumstance one by one, Ben tries his best to undo Dan's conviction in his actions – using everything from his son to their handlers – but both end up feeling respect for each other in a way that's handled well when it could have been ham fisted.

You can read all that into it or you can just enjoy a fun western the likes of which there hasn't been since the Duke last graced screens. Not even Ron Howard got it quite right in remaking the Wayne/Ford classic The Searchers in his 2003 effort The Missing.

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