Rancher Dan Evans heads into Bisbee to clear up issues concerning the sale of his land when he witnesses the closing events of a stagecoach robbery led by famed outlaw Ben Wade. Shortly thereafter, Wade is captured by the law in Bisbee and Evans finds himself one of the escorts who will take Wade to the 3:10 to Yuma train in Contention for the reward of $200. Evans's effort to take Wade to the station is in part an effort to save his land but also part of an inner battle to determine whether he can be more than just a naive rancher in the eyes of his impetuous and gunslinging son William Evans. The transport to Contention is hazardous and filled with ambushes by Indians, pursuits by Wade's vengeful gang and Wade's own conniving and surreptitious demeanor that makes the ride all the more intense. Written by
When Wade, Dan, and the group are escaping through the tunnels after Doc hits the man with the shovel, Doc gets shot in the back but there is no bullet hole in his jacket. You can see the blood from the front when he dies. See more »
[upon hearing Dan cock his rifle]
Dan... Maybe it's the wind.
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Russell Crowe's name is not used in the end credits when crediting his assistant, driver, stand-in, dialect coach, costumer, hair stylist and makeup artist; instead, his character's name, Ben Wade, is used. See more »
A bad western with decent acting and an inferior remake
The 2007 "3:10 to Yuma" is one of those movies loved by general audience and critics alike. I suspect it would be hard to convince anyone in the opposite that the 2007 movie is a bad western and an inferior remake, but I will try.
The 2007 remake tries to impress at all costs, but despite (or maybe because) of that it ends up being a shallow disappointment. It is more concerned with being entertaining than with making the story concise and whole. The shocking extremes and the sharp contrasts make the movie showy, but disconnected from reality on many levels from the questionable plot twists to the impossible in the real world characters.
As a result, instead of a serious, solid western the 2007 remake ends up being a flashy gimmick with a strong artificial aftertaste and a severe lack of insight into human nature. In addition, the 2007 "3:10 to Yuma" is so preoccupied with being witty, original, and shocking that it almost completely leaves humor out of the story
The original 1957 film, on the other hand, features some simple, but tasteful humor, appropriate for a western. It wins us over by genuinely and thoughtfully telling a simple, naturally and smoothly unfolding story. As a result, several important plot elements are better thought- out in the older movie than in its "younger" counterpart.
That definitely includes the final confrontation scene that wraps up the 1957 movie very elegantly without any significant damage to the believability. The 2007 version, on the other hand, has a disastrous ending that cancels out most of the groundwork that had been painstakingly laid throughout the movie.
Overall, unlike the original "3:10 to Yuma", the 2007 remake focuses more on the action and adventure elements and on the gun battles than on the battle of wits and wills between the ordinary rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and the gang leader Ben Wade (Russell Crowe).
In the 2007 version the characters of Ben Wade and his gang of outlaws are grotesquely overdone to the point of being a caricature, more appropriate for a horror or an action movie than for a western. According to the official movie description, they are "vicious gang of thieves and murderers". Ben Wade and his "outfit" are portrayed as ultimate villains - extremely disgusting, aggressively inhumane, scary monsters and heartless killing machines, full of horrific cruelty.
As of Ben Wade himself, in the 2007 remake he is portrayed as a confusing mess, an artistic and narcissistic Hamlet with a gun, a puzzling, artificially constructed hybrid of Hannibal Lecter and Prince Charming. This modern Frankenstein's monster, a product (or should I say a by-product?) of the rich imagination of the movie authors, absolutely does not belong to the simple world of American Old West.
He does not have much in common with anyone in the movie, including Dan Evans. Therefore, the unique bond slowly developing between Dan Evans and Ben Wade looks unconvincing and artificial in the 2007 movie. It is hard to believe that being so strikingly different from Dan Evans, Ben Wade suddenly starts to respectfully appreciate something about Dan, and even somewhat envy his humble life. In the key scene in the hotel room Ben Wade unconvincingly tries to negotiate with Dan by employing melodramatic childhood stories as well as a large dose of pseudo- intellectual philosophizing that the authors had recklessly put in his mouth.
In the 1957 version, Ben Wade with his down to earth, very human character is flesh and blood of American Old West. There is no unnecessary complexity or confusing mystery involved. Ben is a confident leader of the gang and definitely not a simpleton. At the same time, unlike his colleague from the remake, he does not show any weirdly peculiar miracles of cleverness and deceitfulness. He is flawed, but not hopeless.
Most importantly, Ben Wade has surprisingly a lot in common with Dan Evans and the rest of the small town folk. Even having gone different life paths, even having made different life choices, they all still remain children of American Frontier. They speak the same language, they are haunted by similar thoughts, and their value systems are more compatible than it seems at first. All of that makes the unlikely bond that develops between Dave Evans and Ben Wade in the original "3:10 to Yuma" both plausible and believable.
Ben Wade's arch-rival Dan Evans in the 2007 "3:10 to Yuma" for some reason is portrayed as the ultimate victim and the ultimate loser. He is a victim of the Civil War where he lost his leg, a victim of the bureaucratic indifference of the government, a victim of the hostile, powerful, wealthy neighbor who want so seize Dan's land and sell to the railroad, and even a victim of the weather conditions (drought). In addition, one of Dan's kids is seriously sick.
Unlike the extreme character from the 2007 remake, in the 1957 film Dan is just an ordinary, somewhat conservative and stubborn rancher whose life naturally happens to be hard. He courageously fought in the Civil War and was known as a sharp-shooter. He is loved and respected by his wife and his two healthy kids adore him.
I hope by now you see that the original 1957 "3:10 to Yuma" and the relatively recent 2007 "3:10 to Yuma" are two very different animals. Watching both films and then drawing your own conclusions is perhaps the best way to determine the "winner".
Here is what I think: the 2007 "3:10 to Yuma" is a watchable entertaining show with some good acting by Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, and others. However, those after a true western experience might be far more satisfied by the solid 1957 classic.
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