3:10 To Yuma James Mangold

3:10 To Yuma James Mangold

The remake trend grinds on, but instead of reaching into the horror bag and/or that greatest of decades (the ’80s) for its subject matter, this latest remake, 3:10 To Yuma, goes all the way back to 1957 and the Western genre for its inspirations.

Not lacking whatsoever in star power, the updated 3:10 To Yuma features Russell Crowe (Gladiator) as notorious outlaw/gang leader Ben Wade, who’s been terrorising a railroad concern and the current Batman (Christian Bale) as a lame farmer (Dan Evans) attempting to guide his family through drought and poverty in the unforgiving West.

When Wade’s capture gives Evans the opportunity to get out from under his debt and save his family by escorting the outlaw to a train (the titular three-ten to Yuma), he jumps at the chance, setting up a clash between the two. Compounding things are Wade’s murderous gang of cutthroats (featuring a great turn by Ben Foster), who want their leader back, no matter who they have to kill.

Slow to start (like many Westerns, even the greats), 3:10 To Yuma picks up steam once Crowe (who simply fills the screen and, even as a villain, is impossible not to like) and Bale (an unquestionably strong character actor) are forced together and begin their battle of wills.

Still, while 3:10 To Yuma is a good western, and the best in a long time, it doesn’t quite reach the level of "great,” lacking the ancillary qualities that elevate such movies (unforgettable music, a true immersion into the period, iconic characters). As well, many of Wade’s choices seem illogical: the way he’s captured, his turn at the end. Although, granted, it’s clear, eventually, that he wants redemption and to be free from the gang he’s grown tired of leading, which alleviates some of the confusion.

Despite its ending, it’s not as bleak as another Maple "western,” The Proposition, and is a welcome respite from the endless sequels and mindless blockbusters the summer has unleashed thus far. (Maple)