What do you get when you take Christian Bale between Batman movies, Russell Crowe in his prime, Ben Foster stealing ever scene and the director of Logan? You get a damn fine movie, that’s what you get.
3:10 to Yuma was released in 2007 a time even more barren for Westerns than now. It was released theatrically, but really didn’t make much of a bang. I ended up picking it up on DVD sometime later and was shocked by how much I enjoyed the film. I try and see any major Westerns released in theater and this is one of the few that I’ve missed since the late 90’s and it’s a bummer because I bet it would have been great on the big screen.
The movie deals with themes of imposter syndrome and shame. Christian Bale plays a Civil War veteran who lost his leg in battle. He owns a small farm that is suffering in the midst of a drought and is deeply in debt. In an incredible line from the film, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) says when speaking to his wife, “I’m tired of watching my boys go hungry. I’m tired of the way they look at me. I’m tired of the way that you don’t.” I think that brilliantly expresses where Dan Evan’s life is at this film’s moment in time.
Russel Crowe portrays Ben Wade, a notorious outlaw who is quick on the draw, calm, and intelligent. After robbing a stagecoach with his gang, Dan’s escaped cattle ends up in the same location as the heist. The world of this outlaw and farmer collide and Dan cowers much to his son’s dismay.
When a posse is rounded up to try and capture Ben Wade, Dan is able to assist due to his past interaction with Ben. This leads to Dan requesting $200 from the railroad to assist in taking Ben to the 3:10 train to Yuma another town over. The $200 would settle his debts and allow him to hopefully rebuild his barn that is burned down in the opening moments of the film.
Dan, a railroad supervisor, a bounty hunter, and the town veterinarian all embark on this excursion to deliver justice. Unfortunately for them, Ben Wade’s gang discovers the route and decides to go after their boss.
The film is full of great dialogue, memorable characters, beautiful scenery, and a simple story worth telling. The plot is basically a group of men try and get a prisoner on a train destined to a prison, however the true story is about one man’s desire to be something that his son will be proud of.
The performances really make this film work and I’m not sure anyone other than Bale and Crowe could have exuded such pain and conflict as they do. 3:10 to Yuma is one of those films that once it ends, you need a moment to process everything that has occurred and like any great Western, you can see the changes these characters go through over the course of the movie.