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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    How the Western won

    Saying “”3:10 to Yuma”” is one of the best movies of 2007 may or may not be a compliment.

    After all, even though 2007 has seen the release of such stellar films as “”300″” and “”Zodiac,”” it has also brought upon us such dreadful duds as “”Norbit”” and “”Perfect Stranger.””

    Either way, “”3:10 to Yuma”” is an excellent film, with outstanding performances, superb storytelling, intense action sequences and fantastic filming.

    “”3:10 to Yuma””
    R – 117 min. – Relativity Media
    4 stars
    Russel Crowe, Christian Bale, Ben Tucker, Peter Fonda

    Directed by James Mangold (“”Walk the Line””), the film chronicles the adventures of struggling rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and other members of his small western town as they escort big-time bandit Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to a train station before Wade’s gang kills ’em all.

    Unfortunately for Wade, though, there’s a slight problem: Once he gets to the train station, he’s supposed to board the 3:10 train that will take him to be hung at the Yuma prison – not exactly a dream vacation.

    What happens on the way to Yuma is so emotionally stirring that it’s almost like something out of a dream. Evans and Wade, enemies in every way, develop a surprisingly deep and intriguing respect for one another. And in the hands of such superb actors as Crowe and Bale, the relationship is allowed to veer off into all sorts of complexities – so many complexities, in fact, that it can’t be explained how captivating it is to see it played out on screen.

    In addition to strong performances by both leading actors, the supporting actors contribute remarkable performances as well. Ben Foster, the innocent-looking pretty boy who played Angel in “”X-3: The Last Stand,”” takes a sinister turn as the sadistic Charlie Wilson, Wade’s devoted right-hand man whose delight in devilry is matched only by his loyalty to his leader. Veteran actor Peter Fonda is great as the bounty hunter Byron McElroy, and relative newcomer Logan Lerman shines as Evans’ son, William.

    Yet the movie manages to somehow avoid falling in love with its own fascinating characters and dedicates plenty of screen time to the action and fight scenes that are a requirement of all Western films. There is nothing forced about the scenes, though – they are intense with a perfect blend of shooting, combat and back-and-forth character dialogue. Each scene feels completely natural, choreographed with obvious attention to detail and leaves audiences craving a time when cowboys ruled the land.

    The film’s cinematography and camera work are also noteworthy: the contrast between intimate indoor scenes and expansive outdoor scenes is flawless, as is the contrast between the evening and daytime scenes. The camera moves perfectly with the galloping horses, but focuses on a close-up of Wade deep in thought just as smoothly.

    Overall, “”3:10 to Yuma”” is first-rate in every area in which a movie should be first-rate: acting, writing, filming and entertainment value. It is rare to see a movie that entertains you as much as it engages you, and when such a movie does come along, it deserves some recognition.

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