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Monday, May 31, 2010

3:10 to Yuma

Thanks to a loan from my sister, I've finally watched this movie. It's already been seen by most and reviewed by everyone from Roger Ebert to Ben Witherington, but I thought I'd still write a few words about it.

First, the basics from Wikipedia ....

3:10 to Yuma is the 2007 remake of the 1957 film of the same name, making it the second adaptation of Elmore Leonard's short story. It is directed by James Mangold .... and stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Filming took place in various locations in New Mexico.

And here's the plot ....

*** Spoilers below ***

Dan Evans (Christian Bale), married with two sons and seriously injured (wooden leg) by friendly-fire in a retreat during the Civil War, has moved his family out west for the sake of his TB infected younger son, but his small ranch is going under due to bad luck, a heartless neighbor, and the coming railroad. By accident he gets involved in the capture of Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), the notorious leader of a gang of train and stagecoach robbers, and decides that volunteering (and getting paid) for the posse conducting Wade to the 3:10 train to Yuma Territorial Prison is the only way to salvage his ranch and his self-respect

- Dan Evans, speaking to his wife. She says no one will think less of him if he doesn't risk his life joining the posse. He answers that no one could think less of him, including his family and himself. He explains - I've been standing on one leg for three damn years, waiting for God to do me a favor. And He ain't listening.

- Ben Wade, holed up under guard in the bridal suite of a hotel near the train station with Dan. Here he speaks the lines that apparently explain so much :) - I was eight years old. My daddy just got hisself killed over a shot of whiskey, and my mama said, "We're going back East to start over." So she gave me a Bible, sat me down in the train station, told me to read it. She was gonna get our tickets. Well, I did what she said. I read that Bible from cover to cover. It took me three days. She never came back.

What I found most interesting about the movie was the portrayal of the two guys, Dan (Bale) and Ben (Crowe). I felt like I recognized Dan's character - he was a good person semi-destroyed by events beyond his control who just could not get a break nor would give himself a break. When his back was finally against the wall, he made the decision that nothing would stand in the way of fixing things, not even losing his life. The person I found disturbing, though, was Crowe's morally ambiguous character, Ben Wade. He was portrayed as "complex" .... intelligent, artistic, educated, with a sense of humor and the ability to look within. I could buy the character thus far, but the writers added another element - they had him be intermittently compassionate. That's where I think they cheated, because I don't understand how someone can be both a remorseless killer and empathetic (but my sister disagrees with me :)

At any rate, I did like the movie and would recommend it. Here's a trailer ...


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