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3:10 to Yuma is the first western I’ve gone to see in the theater in quite awhile. Actually, at the moment I’m having a really hard time remembering the last western I saw in a theater. It may have been 2003’s The Missing. Anyway, it has been awhile since I sat down in a theater and took in a tale inspired by America’s wild west. I love the western genre in general, it’s America’s age of mythology with its larger than life characters and untamed setting. Unfortunately, we’re not treated to all that many great westerns anymore. Too often it seems like we get westerns that are trying at something a bit lighter rather than playing to the genre’s amoral strengths. 3:10 to Yuma plays to the genre’s strengths.

The plot is simple enough. Christian Bale is a rancher trying to save his land from being sold to the Railroad and Russell Crowe is an outlaw whom he volunteers to help escort to the train that will take him to prison for enough money that he can save his land.  The characters are familiar. Bale’s Dan Evans is a family man who leans on trying to keep his family with a roof over their head and food in their mouths to the point where his attempts may prevent him from doing just that. Crowe’s Ben Wade is his foil, a man who does what he wants, takes what he wants, and shoots anyone who tries to stop him. The two men, brought together by circumstance, form something like a friendship, because they are as similar as they are different. The characters push the story forward and the growth of their relationship seems inevitable. Crowe and Bale play off each other well. Still, Crowe doesn’t seem all that different to me. He plays a charismatic tortured soul, something that seems to be almost too familiar for him.

The supporting actors do an excellent job as well. Peter Fonda takes on the role of a Pinkerton man who seems just as bad as Crowe’s Ben Wade, except he hides behind a badge. Alan Tudyk was a welcome bit of mild comic relief as the Veterinarian who ends up part of Wade’s escort, Doc Potter. Ben Foster, who I am used to seeing as more of the frightened kid Dave in the Punisher or as as the withdrawn Warren Worthington from X-Men: The Last Stand, is chilling as a member of Wade’s gang, Charlie Prince. Foster’s performance rivals Bale’s for my favorite in the film.

The film progresses at a good pace. Enough time is given to properly build character and nothing really feels glossed over. I could feel the anticipation build as we waited with  Dan Evans and Ben Wade for their final trip from the hotel to the train station, something that could have been skipped to get straight into the action, but thankfully wasn’t. The end of the film leaves some welcome questions. Things to debate while walking out of the theater with your friends. The sort of things that will keep people talking about the movie.

Overall, 3:10 to Yuma is worth seeing. It has good performances, good action, a solid plot, and it’s quite well paced. If I were to rate it I would give it 3 out of a possible 4 stars. It’s worth the a full price admission ticket.

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