3:10 to Yuma

I just went to see 3:10 to Yuma, the remake of the 1957 film with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe as the main characters. I greatly enjoyed it and would happily see it again; I'm not sure whether it will become a classic, but it is a very good film.

**Spoiler warning**

The end of the film is perplexing; you can understand why, after the journey they'd had together, Ben Wade (Crowe) might want to wish the best for Dan Evans (Bale), even to the point of allowing himself to be to be transported to Yuma prison - from which he had escaped twice before. It is harder to explain, at first glance, why he would shoot his own gang and then, Dan Evans already being dead, voluntarily go to Yuma.

Earlier in the film, when highlighting Byron McElroy's character flaws, Wade quotes Proverbs 13:85 - "every man's character is good in his own eyes". McElroy, who works for Pinkerton, a sort of proto-security company, justifies his murder of Apaches, including children, as preventing further murders. Wade clearly sees it as little more than genocide of people considered by McElroy to be heathens and perhaps soulless.

It is, then, possible that Wade sees himself as good in his own eyes. The way he manages his gang is brutal - when a younger member of the gang fails to notice a Pinkerton surviving an attack, he shoots him dead without a second thought. His justice, though, is not so very different from the justice of the frontier; rough, ready and deadly. Seeing the hypocrisy in the approved society of the day as represented by McElroy, he sets himself up in his own violent but unhypocritical form of justice. An attractive woman that Wade takes to bed and Evans' younger son both have to move to dry environments because of chest complaints; perhaps that, too, was a motivation for Wade to move to the west. Perhaps another force majeure made him leave and he was unable to repent (and then move to Mexico) as he would have had no means of sustaining himself.

When his aim - keeping Dan Evans alive - fails and he kills his gang, he has effectively committed two crimes; perhaps it is for those that he so calmly surrenders his weapons and himself.

As I mentioned above, 3:10 to Yuma is quite a bloody affair, but necessarily so. It effectively captures the hardship and violence of the frontier. It does not, to my mind, capture the slowness or the boredom of that life. Sergio Leone's Dollars trilogy captures the waiting that is sometimes involved in the Wild West. This is partially done in scenes such as the Union prison camp but more so, in the vein of Lawrence of Arabia, in scenes such as the Mexican stand-off and the long, scenographies that show the expanse of the west.

A particular example is when the elder of Evans' sons sees Wade's gang approaching Yuma; I would have preferred a scene such as in Lawrence of Arabia where Omar Sharif approaches over the dunes.

That having been said, Crowe continues admirably in the tradition of Lee van Cleef - an anti-hero (rather than antihero) - that delights in killing while being both erudite and polite.

The relationships carried on in the film are what elevates this above an interesting, western shoot 'em up. The main one is, of course, between Wade and Evans and its intensity adds to the believability of the final scenes. You are left feeling that, while Wade and Evans will never be friends, they are both victims of circumstance. Who knows, they might even have played football on Christmas Day. Ultimately, the film revolves around an unwilling hero and an antihero, dual but imperfect protagonists that are deeply compromised through the situation in which they find themselves. The absence of a Hollywood hero (and, fortunately, a Hollywood ending) meant I left the film having enjoyed myself tremendously rather than angry at a film having been thrown away for sentiment's sake at the last moment.

**End spoiler warning**

Final thing: I don't like tag lines. Sometimes, it would be better not to have them. 'Time waits for one man' has nothing to do with the film. It's silly. It looks out of place on the poster. There's no need for it. Stop it.




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