3:10 to Yuma
Despite having to give up two tickets to 3:10 to Yuma because of my stinking cold, I still managed to get a review out of it thanks to another friend Patrick. Many thanks for this, and hopefully I'll get my own review up when it gets released next week. In the meantime, here's what Patrick thought.
Director James Mangold's American west is a cold place: there is snow on the ground; everyone wears gloves; and there is ice in their hearts. Shot in rich tones - perhaps due to digital filming - it is a western that is both predictable and unusual: perhaps more 1970s road movie posing as a western (and featuring Peter Fonda as a bounty hunter), it was enjoyable but flawed.
It is very much Russell Crowe's film; he plays charismatic outlaw Ben Wade, and his deliberately obtuse character - a cool killer, an educated artist versed in the Bible, playing psychological games with his captors as they take him to justice and a train - the eponymous 3:10 to Yuma - is a chimera. The main relationship between Wade and poor farmer Dan Evans (Christian Bale) - Wade being everything that Evans isn't (and, of course, vice versa) - works well, and the confusion between who is the good guy and who is the bad.
A remake of a 1957 movie which had Glenn Ford as Wade (again, the good guy/bad guy dichotomy shining through), based on a story by Elmore Leonard, there were too many scenes that reminded me of Blazing Saddles - the sub-plot (poor farmer being forced off his land by landowners hoping to sell out to the railroad) could have come from the pen of Mel Brooks, and they even eat beans and sing songs around the camp fire.
My favourite character is a homicidal psychopath, Wade's lieutenant Charlie Prince, played with a wonderful camp hamminess by Ben Foster. There are a lot of brutal killings in this movie - most by the anti-hero Wade: lots of guns, lots of blood. Perhaps too much: to fit it all in, the film moves at a cracking pace, and the characters remain caricatures.
This is the film's undoing: the characters behave in ways which aren't fully explained - Wade has opportunities to escape and he doesn't, his captors could have kept him silent and they don't (had no one thought of stuffing a sock in his mouth? It wouldn't have made such an interesting movie - though Crowe was charismatic enough that he might have pulled it off - but it is rather an obvious thing to do when your captive starts mouthing off).
The ending, though entertaining and dramatic, just didn't hang together. An enjoyable movie, then, by frustrating: it could have been tighter, and more tense; and not have an ending seen long before the train leaves the platform.
[Richard] Patrick, many thanks once again for the review.