3:10 to Yuma was a good film. Authorities finally capture the notorious highway robber, gang leader and killer Ben Wade played by Russel Crowe. Christian Bale is Dan Evans, a crippled Civil War veteran with one leg struggling to stay a rancher and support a small family. Evans is under the burden of debt and the railroads are gobbling up all the land. His only shot at cash is to help escort Wade onto the train headed for Yuma prison, a job not many would willingly take.
Russell Crowe certainly shines in his element playing a charming but dangerous outlaw who can be reassuringly kind while inspiring fear. Crowe’s Ben Wade is a simple but complex man. Someone who stakes his life on honor and respect with careless disregard for the lives of those that get in his way. Only Crowe can portray a character with vulnerabilities through a stoic and macho exterior and he does a fine job of that.
Christian Bale’s Dan Evans is a stark contrast to Wade. He’s a small-time rancher, crippled in body, and crushed in soul who can no longer even command the respect of his son William, a brave if reckless kid who shows a fiercer spirit than his father. Evans is a broken man clinging on to what’s left of his dignity in order to protect his family. Wade always seem gentle until the moment he drives a fork through someone’s neck or throws them off a cliff. He strikes quickly like a snake. Evans in contrast, is constantly on edge trying to maintain a tough facade while essentially scrounging his livelihood.
Ben Foster plays Charlie Prince, Wade’s second in command, a sociopath with strong gay undertones toward Wade. He really steals the show when he takes center stage. I never thought I’d see a flaming cowboy played so convincingly without so much as a single gay kiss. It’s clear that he adores Wade, his boss and daddy figure.
The interaction between Crowe and Bale is truly a wonderful product of two great actors doing their best work. You can see all the complex interactions unfold within their eyes. Bale and his boy are perhaps the only figure Crowe feels any empathy towards, a man and his boy living a life that he could never have (not that he’d be able to stand it). Despite the fact that Bale is the one that has hampered Crow on numerous occasions, he could never bring himself to really harm Bale.
As far as Westerns go it doesn’t get any more traditional than this. Yet it still manages to feel fresh and modern. Maybe it’s Ben’s flaming rendition. The final scene didn’t seem to go down well with some but I thought it was a nice, real finish to an excellent movie.