I love westerns. They can be cheesy, or they can be brilliantly good. Either way, I love western movies. From “Young Guns” to “Silverado” to “Tombstone” to “The Quick and The Dead” to “Unforgiven” – I love ’em all. And now I’ll add the Russell Crowe/Christian Bale version of “3:10 to Yuma” to that list.
The movie is a tale of a small-time rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) who is desparate for money to save his family’s farm. To earn $200 he agrees to escort a captured outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) to the train station a couple towns away to catch a train to go to court in Yuma. Doesn’t sound like much does it? Well, don’t be fooled. Much like Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” what “Yuma” lacks in complicated plotlines it more than makes up for with amazing performances and outstanding dialogue. Throw in other great castmates (Peter Fonda, Ben Foster (more on him in a minute), and Alan Tudyk) and WOW – what a movie!
I haven’t seen the original (which starred Glenn Ford in Crowe’s role and Van Heflin in Bale’s), but I’ve heard the remake is slightly different and both are great in their own right. So I’ll be renting the original for sure.
But let’s talk about Ben Foster for a minute. Was he nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of amoral Charlie Prince? Because he should have been. Foster plays a member of Ben Wade’s posse who intends on keeping Evans from getting Wade on that train. From the first moment on screen I knew Foster would be brilliant. I LOVE Ben Foster. When I first saw him in “Liberty Heights” in 1999 I knew he’d be an actor with many more roles in his future. I was thrilled when he was in “Freaks and Geeks,” one of my favorite TV shows of all time. What’s great about Ben Foster is that I don’t care WHAT kind of movie it is – whether it’s The Punisher or The Laramie Project, he COMPLETELY commits to the role he plays. And as Charlie Prince he excels and keeps his character from becoming too over-the-top but just on the rim of downright crazy. Wow. Rent the movie just for him alone – he was compelling.
So even if you don’t like westerns too much, rent this movie. And then rent Silverado and Unforgiven – two more fantastic modern westerns. And then rent Young Guns, Quick & the Dead and Tombstone for modern spagetti westerns that you can’t help but love.
4 1/2 verses from Proverbs out of five.