Posted by: Paul | May 23, 2010

3:10 to Yuma

I don’t often find myself with either the time or inclination to watch films at the moment. So I surprised even myself by recording and then actually remembering to watch 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 remake of the 1957 western.

Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a former Yankee sniper turned rancher on the brink of poverty as the railroad closes in, and the frontier farm he rents from an uncompromising local landowner proves more valuable without his family on it. Rounding up his cattle with his two sons, the three witness a stagecoach robbery by Ben Wade and his gang (a very watchable Russell Crowe). Evans leads the local Marshal to Wade, hiding in plain sight in a nearby town (no photofits in those days, you see), and joins the group of men tasked with taking him to the titular prison-bound train, in order to save his family from bankruptcy.

It’s a very violent movie – much more so than I expected. But I guess it’s a remake through the modern lens, and probably closer to the brutal reality of frontier living than the original. So many people are casually shot in old westerns, and the movie was unflinching in its depictions of the carnage of primitive gun battles (and there were plenty of them). It’s a great ride though. If I had one criticism it’s that the grizzled gunslingers tend to growl and mumble at each other at a bit lower volume than I’m comfortable with, and turning the volume up enough to hear all the dialogue makes the action sequences absolutely deafening – a problem which has become more and more apparent with the advent of surround sound (poor mixing, I often think! When will they learn that less is more?)

Actually, I have two criticisms. I didn’t think the end was very convincing. What was with Crowe’s sudden change of heart, and running from his own gang? Very odd and I don’t think it really worked. Was he just fed up with the life? If so it was not well signposted at all. It was all very well the two men gradually developing respect for one another, but the previous scene saw Crowe trying to strangle Bale to death in order to escape!

Incidentally, really looking forward to picking up Rockstar games new western-themed title, Red Dead Redemption. A bit like Grand Theft Auto meets Unforgiven! It looks staggeringly beautiful, and being an unusual subject for a game is bound to throw up some pleasant (and not-so-pleasant) surprises.

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