3:10 to Yuma

Directed by James Mangold
Written by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas from a short story by Elmore Leonard
Produced by Cathy Konrad and others
Released in 2007

The 2007 version of the Western film, 3:10 to Yuma, is based on a short story by Elmore Leonard and written by Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. Directed by James Mangold, the film was produced by Cathy Konrad, with Stuart Besser, Ryan Kavanaugh and Lynwood Spinks as executive producers.

Christian Bale plays a failing rancher and war veteran, Dan Evans, who agrees to escort Russell Crowe’s captured outlaw character, Ben Wade, to a nearby town to meet the train that will take Wade to face justice in the township of Yuma. Evans is part of a disparate group wanting Crowe to face justice for a number of reasons. The group includes Wade’s eldest son whose view on justice evolves as the film progresses, perhaps mirroring the audiences’ own views of right and wrong. Wade’s band of fellow outlaws pursues the escorts mercilessly through Indian territory and across land that is being opened up for the railway to a bloody last stand as the 3:10 train to Yuma arrives.

The film received two Academy Award nominations and 32 nominations for various awards overall, winning three awards including the Bronze Wrangler award presented annually by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum at the Western Heritage Awards to honour the top works in Western music, film, television and literature.

I saw this originally in the cinema and the cinematography, music and sound created a strongly, evocative story world that is often present in Westerns. The landscapes are huge, acting both to empower and disable the characters and affect their journeys. Watching it recently on the small screen, the impact of the visual story world was much-reduced, and I focused more on the characters. Crowe’s charming bad guy and Bale’s anguished good guy mean both actors are playing to their strengths. The pairing is brilliant; Crowe’s star power and charisma clash with Bale’s intense, all-in character development.

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