3:10 TO YUMA
November 27, 2007, at Movies 10 in Plano, Texas
I have always been a fan of Russell Crowe. He is, like Colin Farrell, unapologetically himself all the time — what you see is what you get, like it or not — and I appreciate that in a person. That Crowe has the talent to back up his enormous personality only serves to elevate my affection. Christian Bale is a new interest of mine, an actor I’ve always appreciated but in whom I never took much interest. It wasn’t until the last couple of years, in fact, that he surfaced on my radar; his work in The Prestige, A New World, and (of course) Batman Begins, has placed him squarely before me as a person of interest. Thus, when 3:10 to Yuma was released, I had no question about whether it was worth my time.
The movie did not disappoint. The actors were so engulfed by their characters that I was never aware of the actors themselves. This is what I enjoy about Bale, that he is never Christian Bale but always the character. In Yuma, Crowe managed this feat, as well. Not all actors can accomplish this, and very few who have reached the level of celebrity that Crowe enjoys, but in this film both (in fact, all of the actors involved) were able to retreat fully into character and make me forget who I was watching and instead take the ride with them. [Peter Fonda plays a Pinkerton bounty hunter, and he was so consumed by character that I had to actually wait for the closing credits to know who he was, despite trying to determine it by his appearance throughout the entire film. What a treat for me!]
All of the critics have commented that 3:10 to Yuma is a film in the standard of the original westerns, so I was fully prepared for this aspect of the film. It is absolutely true; everything we love about the old westerns by John Ford and his contemporaries is present in this retelling, from the staging to the characterizations, from the sweeping cinematography to the subtle, distinct music that provides both backdrop and dramatic pacing. It has been a long time coming, this return to form, and I welcome more films of the genre if they are done half as well as this one. I’ve yet to see the original version of Yuma, but this film makes me interested enough to search it out.
While much credit must be given to the director, it is the actors who retained my attention and engaged me throughout the story. Crowe is a perfect blend of outlaw and gentleman (so often the case with the best western writing), and Bale is truly astounding in his ability to adapt the dialect and drawl of his character’s speech. (I am always amazed at this Brit’s ability to do this.) 3:10 to Yuma is a treat in every way, and a compelling drama that could easily have been set in any genre. But having it be a western makes it an instant classic.
image from Rotten Tomatoes