>> 3:10 to Yuma (John’s Review, 8.5/10)

yuma.jpgSeptember is not supposed to see releases like this. September is one of two dumping months for studios (the other being January), where the film companies unload some of their most unsellable junk into theatres. Movies that are not good enough for the Summer land here alongside the The Covenant‘s and the Crossover‘s of the world (two 2006 wide releases that have already been lost to the sands of time).

The marketing suits at Lions Gate, apparently unable to sell any film without Saw in the title, dump 3:10 to Yuma out in a month when no one is going to the movies. They’ve paired Russell Freakin’ Crowe as a charismatic outlaw against COWBOY BATMAN (Christian Bale) in a film directed by James Mangold (Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line), possibly the best working director that has yet to breakout and make a name for himself, in a remake with a title that most people have heard of. The film opens and makes nothing. Oh, yeah, 3:10 to Yuma is number one the opening weekend, but $14 million is nothing. The Tuxedo, literally a movie about a tuxedo starring Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love-Hewitt, had a higher September opening than this film, and that was a few years ago.

I say all that to say this–This is must-see entertainment, and Lion’s Gate marketed it like it was some sort of contractual obligation that it ever see release.

Bale is rancher and Civil War vet Dan Evans, in over his head with debt, who agrees to escort captured outlaw Ben Wade across the state to the closest train station where Wade will be carried off to a Yuma, Arizona prison. The small group that Evans rides with as part of the job (Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk, Dallas Roberts) manage to evade Wade’s men, led by Wade’s murderous henchman Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), for a while, but the clock is ticking as both groups work their way toward the inevitable showdown at the train depot.

It’s a simple story, but the characters are complex and well-drawn. There’s a real, moral three-dimensionality to Crowe’s Wade, walking a fine line between charming rogue and steely-eyed scumbag. Bale, too, is given a lot to work with. Evans’ debts are destroying his family, and the decisions that he makes are motivated by his desire to reconnect with his son, William. Everyone in this movie is good, and they are given plenty of really great dialogue to work with. This is a movie where all of the ingredients–the acting, the writing, the directing–work at the same top-notch level, delivering a Western that is easily one of the best films of the year.

You could’a had a legitimate hit movie, Lions Gate, but nooOOOoooOOOoo. Maybe next time, when you are sitting on a very excellent film, you’ll release it in such a way where you will actually make money from it. Dummies. 3:10 to Yuma is worth every penny of the ticket price, and the type of film that will find its audience regardless of a lousy September release date.

8.5 on a 1 to 10 scale



  1. Agreed 100%.

    This is the year when nobody is watching anything good. My top 5 favorite films of the year I don’t think have combined for $100 million box office.
    I love the depth that was given to Crowe’s and Bale’s characters, and the revolving underlying admiration between the two of them and Bale’s son William. I really want to watch this movie again.

  2. you pretty much it the nail on the head. i thought that lions gate had moved the film up from its original release date because the studio believed it to be a great film. That makes sense to me, except that the advertising was weak and generic and relied a great deal on blurbs from critics. it sucks that they botched the release of this one, because i also have this in my top 5 for the year.

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