3:10 To Yuma James Mangold

3:10 To Yuma James Mangold
Whether you see it as a return to form for the western as a serious medium for moral exploration or simply as a damn fine example of the genre, there’s no denying the fierce quality of the filmmaking. James Mangold (Walk the Line) has gone to admirable lengths to craft a reverent retelling of the original 3:10 To Yuma from 1957. Not the least being one of the most magnificent casts assembled last year. Christian Bale once again immerses himself in a foreign personality as meek, wounded farmer Dan Evans, who’s lost the respect of his family due to his perceived inaction during drought and poverty. Dan finds the opportunity for redemption via notorious outlaw Ben Wade, wonderfully portrayed by Russell Crowe (who’s even more likeable in this villainous role). Evans can’t resist when he’s offered enough cash to pull his family out of debt if he helps escort Wade to the town of Contention and puts him on the train to Yuma prison. A deadly battle of wills ensues between the men as they traverse the harshly beautiful landscape and weather attempts by Wade’s ruthless posse to rescue their beloved leader. Judging by his killer reserve as Wade’s right hand man Charlie Prince, Ben Foster should be a household name in no time. Rounding out the stellar supporting cast are Peter Fonda and Alan Tudyk (Serenity), demonstrating Mangold’s high calibre casting of even minor roles. Yuma falls short of classic greatness, mostly due to the irrational decisions that define Wade’s character late in the film. The sentiment is noble but the logic is lacking. It’s easier to forgive these plotting hiccups after viewing the special features. Mangold is a director immensely aware of his craft and intentions as a storyteller, amply displayed in his articulate, info-jammed feature commentary. His concern is with exploring morality within the mythological setting of the Wild West, rather than creating a historically sound and sensible document. "An Epic Explored” tackles these issues specifically, while "Destination Yuma” is a wonderfully transparent look at the filming process. The deleted scenes featuring unnecessarily side plots were wisely cut and "Outlaws, Gangs and Posses” is a fascinating historical overview of the lives of the old west’s most notorious real outlaws. (Maple)