The last great Western was “Unforgiven”, with “Tombstone” running a close second. Why has the genre so left our consciousness as an entertainment form? It could be because we (this author included) have recently been obsessed with comic books and adapting them for the silver screen. Westerns aren’t flashy. They don’t have CG explosion, flying beings of fire and silver, hot hi-tech jets, and adamantium claws. Westerns are gritty, they’re faded, they’re real. At least the good ones are…

So, along comes “3:10 to Yuma”, not only a Western, but a remake of a Western based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. It stars Christian Bale and Russell Crowe, and it is one hell of a great movie, Western or not.

Russell Crowe as Ben Wade

Russell Crowe plays Ben Wade, ringleader for a gang of outlaws. Wade is charsimatic, educated, but above all a skilled killing machine. However, sometimes being the best makes you complacent. And Wade makes a mistake following a stagecoach robbery that gets him caught.

Christian Bale is Dan Evans, once a sharpshooter in the Civil War (but which side???), now transplanted to Arizona to etch out a living as a farmer. He is trying to buy the land he works on, but has come upon hard times. With no money in hand and none in the foreseeable future, he stands to lose his stake. Evans is in many ways (physically but more important mentally) a broken man. His two sons look upon him as a coward. His wife won’t look upon him at all. Yet still he does what he thinks it will take to keep his family afloat.

Dan Evans (Christian Bale)

Through a set of circumstances (highly plausible but ones I won’t divulge), a posse is assembled to take Ben Wade to the jail in Yuma via a train that leaves the town of Contention (a day’s ride away) at 3:10. Ben is given the chance to join the posse and earn the money needed to buy his land.

I won’t give any more of the plot away because I truly feel the best part of this movie is watching how the story unfolds.

“3:10” is a great movie about the struggles a man faces as he tries to redeem himself, to his family and to himself. What exactly constitutes a hero? What obstacles will you not allow to stand in your way? What obstacles will you decide are too difficult to overcome?

Also, for Crowe’s character, what is the nature of evil? Are people truly good, or truly bad?

Great performances by both lead actors make “Yuma” a movie not to be missed. A fantastic Western. A fantastic movie.

Rating (out of 10) – 10

— Geeksinger