3:10 to Yuma


Year 2007

Russell Crowe as  Ben Wade  
Christian Bale   as Dan Evans
Peter Fonda as  Byron McElroy
Ben Foster as Charlie Prince
 
Director - James Mangold
Screenwriters - Halsted Welles
  - Michael Brandt
  - Derek Haas
Short Story Author   - Elmore Leonard  

Three colon ten. Three hours and ten minutes. If you count travel time, getting ready time, and the movie running time of one hour and fifty seven minutes, this movie will suck away about three hours and ten minutes of your life. These are minutes that cannot be replaced!

This is a western. It has something to do with revenge or the railroad or robbing a stage coach or something. If there's something western seeming about a topic, then this movie probably has it.

I've got to let you know that I didn't watch the entire movie. In fact, after about ten or so minutes, I turned it off, thereby only suffering through the ten in 3:10.

The movie starts off with noise. Maybe it's people talking, but the voices are muffled and the volume is up and down like a cork in a lake. The only way you know someone's talking is that their lips are moving. What did they say? Who knows? I thought I heard the word "railroad" mixed in with the droning.

It doesn't help that Christian Bale recites his dialogue with a mixture of some hacked up western drawl, a bit of an attempt at a southern twang, and his own native Welsh accent. Maybe this guy can glare and "emote" for the camera but he sure as shootin' can't convince me he's some sort of character in a western.

Like all good hacks, the screen writers start the movie with a bang, or in this case a barn fire. The boy, there's always a boy whether he's shouting, "Shane!" or merely being a betrayer, insults what I figure is his dad by pretty much telling him that he's a worthless coward.

Even today, that sort of behavior means a visit with a belt, the back of a hand, a yardstick, or something!. Back in the ol' west, it should have certainly been greeted with more than a sensitive whatever look from the man o' the house.

Then comes the next day when they're rounding up the cattle. It's here that we, the audience, are backhanded by the doofi that claimed that they wrote the screenplay. Apparently, all of the cattle's food had burned up in the barn. Now, one of them is starving to death, in less than twelve hours. Dan Evans (Bale) has to shoot the critter to put it out of its misery. Huh? Don't cattle just eat the grass that's growing wild? Since when do cattle need feed to survive?

Meanwhile, the guy who set the barn on fire, Ben Wade (Crowe) is off to rob a stagecoach. The barn burning was just a diversion for the mean, evil, wicked Wade. We know he's evil because when we meet him, he's sketching a picture of a hawk who's modeling for Wade in the middle of the day. Let's force that outlandish symbolism in there with all the deftness of a falling brick.

So here comes the stagecoach. Pay no attention to the placement of the people. They'll defy the laws of physics and be both behind and in front of the racing wagon within seconds. Did the stagecoach pass Wade hiding in a conveniently placed arroyo filled with cattle? No matter, he'll be in front of them in the next frame and the cattle will be instantaneously stampeding in front of the oncoming coach.

The stagecoach is specially built to house a Gattling Gun in the back. It has a full 180 degrees of movement facing backward. Here's a tip. Don't go past the front of the stagecoach. Then, you can't be shot by the Gattling Gun. For some reason, everyone gallops past the front of the stage coach to the rear to face the professional, specialized Gattling Gun operators who proceed to fire wildly and blindly rather than aim at a target. Finally, they are killed.

A word about the stagecoach. It's supposed to be some sort of impregnable fortress. It's fastness is probably a thing of legend. In truth, it's a poorly designed firetrap with a link to the horses made of string.

Compare this miniature Lincoln Logs built crate with the stagecoach in Sergio Leone's Duck, You Sucker and you'll see where this is an unimaginative buckboard, but with a gun that shoots people if they go around the back.

With all of this slapdash attacking and shooting and time warping and teleporting, it may have been a good B movie. But, it's obvious that the director is taking himself seriously. He's trying to be "edgy" and maybe "make a statement" about something. My impression is that he's a twitching caffeine fiend who thinks that evil is probably, but not necessarily, a bad thing because you've got to keep an open mind about that sort of stuff especially when you direct from an ivory tower.

It turns out that the stagecoach was vulnerable to rocks, so it's all busted up and dynamite blew open a tiny metal lock but nothing else so we get to see how bad these hombre stagecoach robbers are. They like to gut shoot people. They shoot Byron McElroy (Fonda) in the gut and leave him to live.

Uh, what? A gut shot is supposed to be one of the most painful ways to die! Not live! Die!

Fonda gets in a few good lines like referring to Charlie Prince (Foster) as Princess. Considering that I'm not a big Peter Fonda fan since he nearly ruined Boondock Saints II for me, you know how bad this movie is when he's one of the better aspects of it. <shudder>.

Click!

Don't believe the quote on the cover by Bruce Westbrook from the Houston Chronicle that this is, "The best western since Unforgiven!" unless this is the only western since Unforgiven.

Maybe if I'd have watched it longer it might have "gotten better". If it had "gotten better" it would have been because the movie was sapping me of higher brain powers.

Bad sound, continuity gaffs, muddled plot, poor acting, heavy handed symbolism. What's not to like? Save your time and money. Watch the director's cut of The Wild Bunch or any Man with No Name version of an Eastwood western at least one hundred times before subjecting yourself to even ten minutes of this.

Chick flick potential? Who knows. Maybe it's hip to like edgy drivel and she's into that.


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