Underrated Gem: 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Plot: A small-time rancher agrees to hold a captured outlaw who’s awaiting a train to go to court in Yuma. A battle of wills ensues as the outlaw tries to psych out the rancher.

I hadn’t watched 3:10 to Yuma for a few years but one of my friends mentioned it the other day and it motivated me to give it a revisit as I remember really enjoying it when it first came out; I forgot just what an entertaining movie it is. One of the biggest strengths of 3:10 to Yuma is its outstanding cast.

Christian Bale delivered a brilliant performance as the farmer, Dan Evans, who is hired to escort the notorious outlaw, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), to the prison in Yuma.

Both actors displayed an incredible chemistry but personally, I consider this Russell Crowe’s movie. His character Ben Wade is undeniably a bad man and yet he does have a sense of honour with Crowe giving him such an alluring charisma that it’s easy to fall under his charms. That’s not to take away from Christian Bale who is also phenomenal as Dan, a farmer who has lost the respect of his son due to a wound to his leg; he feels that by taking Wade to the train to face justice he can not only save his farm from an encroaching railroad but also regain his dignity and his son’s respect.

Then we have Ben Foster who plays his villainous role to perfection, as he brought an unpredictability to his character, Charlie Prince; Foster never disappoints and this remains one of his best roles to date. It must have taken him months to do the various gun moves which he makes look easy. Kevin Durand also makes for a truly hateful character and it’s hard not to be pleased when Wade gives him what he deserves.

I find the pacing with this movie is mostly perfect as it doesn’t go more than a few minutes without a shoot-out and there’s just an underlying tension throughout as Wade is not to be trusted and his gang are never too far away.

Additionally, the musical score by Marco Beltrami adds extra depth to the movie. The sounds of violins, guitars, and percussion combine to give a raw and organic soundtrack that feels fitting of the old west era in which the movie is set. I especially love the opening credits music as it creates a sense of excitement from the get-go.

The direction is faultless, with director James Mangold maintaining the mood and atmosphere of the movie, delivering a gritty and authentic western experience. The climactic shoot-out is wonderfully realized and the final scene of the film is perfect.

Overall, 3:10 to Yuma is arguably my favourite movie from James Mangold as it has a cast at the top of their game, an engaging story and plenty of impressive action and violence to keep viewers entertained.