Just when you think that the western is a lost art form, along comes a film like “3:10 To Yuma”. This movie has everything I love about the genre. The best westerns were ones that were not so much a story, but more of a morality tale. A test of values in the face of harsh landscapes and violent men. Here we have two men who face off in a war of ideologies.
Russell Crowe plays Ben Wade, an outlaw who prides challenging the authorities by pulling off daring heists. His first in command is Charlie Prince played by Ben Foster. Prince is a ruthless killer, who stays close to Wade. Wade is not your typical one dimensional outlaw. He is a vicious killer yes, but he has a very charismatic and artistic side. He likes to talk. When he meets Dan, played by Christian Bale, he is intrigued.
Dan’s life is in chaos at the moment as his farm is being threatened with repossession. The locals that owes money to have just burned down his barn, and he is broke. When Wade is captured, he offers to help escort him to the 3:10 train to Yuma. This turns out to be a daunting task as Wade’s gang is bent on breaking him free.
The two men have a series of interesting conversations that give Dan some questions that test his morals and his loyalty. When he finds himself barricaded in a hotel, just him and Wade, instead of going right to a shoot out, director James Mangold sits and lets the two men talk. Their conversation reveals deep truths about each man. Should Dan just accept money from Wade and save his farm, or should he bring this criminal to justice, facing death in the process? This movie has many layers to it.