Ray Baxter, Senior reviewer
With "3:10 to Yuma" we have yet another remake, this time of a classic western, first debuting a half-century ago. This version has been updated by adding a psychological aspect to the blazing guns and senseless killing we've come to expect from this genre.
Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a small-time rancher suffering from a long-term Arizona drought. He is a Civil War veteran, where he was a sharpshooter for the North and lost a leg in battle. Today with his wife and two sons, he is about to lose his ranch for lack of funds to pay the deed holder. Dan's wife Alice (Gretchen Mol) is losing patience with their circumstances, and his 14-year-old son Will (Logan Lerman) has already lost respect for his dad.
Dan and his boys witness the Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) gang rob the heavily armored and protected stage carrying the Southern Pacific payroll. All the guards are killed, except Wade spares the life of longtime Pinkerton rival Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) by intentionally only shooting him in the stomach. Wade confronts Dan, but then lets him go after realizing the rancher is only interested in saving his dying cattle.
Wade sneaks into Bisbee and decides to stay on his own to romance the local barmaid, while the rest of his gang looks to escape south of the border. Meanwhile Dan has helped take the wounded McElroy to town and once again the rancher and bad guy confront each other.
With his guard down, Ben Wade is captured and the plan is to transport him by horseback to Contention City, where he would be put on the train to Yuma for trial and an expected hanging. Dan agrees to help guard Wade during this three-day trip in exchange for $200, which is all he needs to save his ranch. But with Wade's gang returning to save their leader, will they be able to make this train?
The acting by (and interaction between) Crowe and Bale was, in a word, exceptional, and by itself is what makes this movie worthwhile to see.
Disappointing was the ending in that some facets were unclear and left the audience mystified and perplexed. Additionally, this is a movie where the story takes place in Arizona cities, yet almost all the filming was done in and around the capital city of New Mexico.
If you are a fan of the classic western, and in the past have enjoyed movies like "High Noon" (another movie with ticking clocks and arriving trains), you will enjoy "3:10 to Yuma."