I must preface this by saying I still have yet to see the original film starring Glen Ford and Van Heflin, but I must say I was just as intrigued by the pairing of Christian Bale and Russell Crowe. Bale plays against type as a one-legged war vet and rancher trying to make a living for his family.
Then there’s Crowe who takes a turn as notorious outlaw Ben Wade who has committed his fair share of crimes and bank jobs with his gang. It would appear they have very little in common, that is until Wade is captured by some local authorities and Dan Evans signs on to help take him to the train station, since he’s in desperate need of money. So begins the dangerous undertaking, with Wade’s men looking for blood, Apaches waiting for them, and numerous other pitfalls. They are mistaken if Wade is going down without a fight, but he slowly bides his time getting under their skin. Their plan to set a decoy also buys them little time after the bandits interrogate the stand in and let him burn.
Second in command Charlie Prince is not going to stop until he gets his boss back, and he proves that he will use any measures he deems necessary. Evans and the rest are held up in a town on the second story waiting for their assailants, but the odds get bad real quick. On a matter of principle, Evans decides to finish what he started while telling his son to leave the premises. The finale begins as Evans and Wade head to the train station with a barrage of bullets aimed in their direction. The old reliable 3:10 to Yuma is late, but in one final moment Wade willingly gets aboard the train probably knowing full well that he can escape a third time. There stands Dan Evans a man who did something extraordinary and will get the money he so desperately needs. But Wade and young William watch as Dan gets riddled with bullets from behind. But Wade and William are far from done.
Since the western is all but a dead genre nowadays, it’s always wonderful when a modern film is able to do justice to the lineage, and even as a remake this version can certainly stand alone. It fills a gritty, grimy, sweaty reality that in some instances feels a lot more realistic than early Hollywood westerns. In other words, it’s not bad, just different and aside from Bale and Crowe, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, and Alan Tudyk all are memorable. However, I lost Fonda under all that beard. Was that really him?