3:10 to Yuma * * 1/2
Director: James Mangold.
Screenplay: Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas.
Starring: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol, Vinessa Shaw, Luke Wilson.
After his Oscar winning “Walk the Line”, director James Mangold got on the saddle to direct this adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s western (filmed once before in 1957 with Glenn Ford). He employs two fine actors for the lead roles but even they can’t help with a script that has more gaping holes than you can shake a ten-gallon hat at.
When notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is captured, a posse is thrown together – including penniless rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) – to escort him to the town of ‘Contention’, where the 3:10 train to Yuma prison will arrive. Getting there is no easy task though, especially when Wade’s gang are determined to rescue him.
This is a western that certainly looks like a potential classic. It has great performances; a keen eye and feel for detail; beautiful cinematography and it’s based on the easily adaptable writer Elmore Leonard’s book. So what went wrong? Well, for a start it could have been doing with a script that wasn’t so ridiculous and insulting. Granted, the movie starts off great and really looks like it’s going somewhere. Suddenly Crowe’s character begins to show a different, more sensitive side, other than the ruthless murderer we were introduced to and the film goes in a completely different direction, with the last 15 mins or so completely unintelligible. Crowe and Bale put in good performances and work well together but when a script stinks, there’s not much the actors can do to save it. It starts off very promising indeed, before resorting to ludicrous plot developments, ruining what could have been a fine addition to the genre.
3:10 to Yuma? It’s a shame Crowe and Bale couldn’t have caught the earlier train.