The western is the original genre of cinema. The first ever narrative film was The Great Train Robbery and was the western which began Hollywood’s long running obsession with cowboys and outlaws. However, with the uprising of science fiction and the superhero genre now becoming the leading money spinners in cinema modern westerns don’t usually do that well in the mainstream. 3:10 to Yuma, released in 2007, managed to make a small profit but didn’t pull up many trees, yet I think that this is a fantastic film that proves the western can still entertain.

3:10 to Yuma is the story of Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a war veteran who lost his leg and now struggles to keep his family on his ranch through drought and debt problems. When the infamous outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) finally gets captured and needs escorting to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison, Dan volunteers to take him for a price. Along the way Dan wins the respect of his son and finds a mutual respect and reluctant friendship with Ben Wade.

Directed by James Mangold, not a very famous director by any means, 3:10 to Yuma manages to capture the essence of the western very well; the visual direction of the film is very good. When people think of westerns they usually think of gunfight after gunfight but what you have here is a slow paced film but with a story and characters like these there is no danger of it ever becoming boring. Both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe put in fantastic performances and the character of Ben Wade is possibly one of the greatest antagonists I have ever seen; I think that his personality is a great one and rather than just being a badder than bad villain it becomes clear that he actually does have morals and he does have his own rules that he lives by, despite the fact that he runs one of the roughest gangs in the west. The conflict that arises between Evans and Wade is very interesting and watching the respect that these two men have for one another grow throughout their film and they confess secrets to one another is actually quite touching.

The supporting cast of Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk and Gretchen Mol all do a good job with what they are given but Ben Foster who plays Ben Wade’s right hand man Charlie Prince is absolutely fantastic and brings a real sinister side to his character. Rising star Logan Lerman puts in a shift as Evans’ son and fan of Ben Wade and it is clear to see that he has real potential as an actor.

Throughout 3:10 to Yuma there isn’t that much action with the real emphasis based on the interactions between Dan Evans and Ben Wade as I mentioned earlier but when there is action it is very good. There is a scene at the mines where Evans’ group rescue Ben Wade from torture that goes down very well and the final shootout is brilliant. People are dropping like flies during the final gunfight when Evans races to get Wade onto the train and the ending is pretty much as perfect as it could be.

3:10 to Yuma is by no means the best film ever but since the first time I saw the western it has been on my list of favourite films.

My Rating: 8/10.

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