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3:10 to Yuma (2007)

8 Nov

After a full day at work (for even livewithfilm has to make a living), a measure of fatigue had set in. The eight hour day managed to make the enforced act of watching a film (dare livewithfilm say it?) seem an endeavour. Nevertheless, loving film seems inescapable and the absorption of celluloid cannot possibly be described as an act of exertion. Therefore, as some sort of antidote to this despondency, livewithfilm chose to escape to the plains of nineteenth century America with James Manigold’s 3:10 to Yuma. Surely exhaustion couldn’t be as bad as having the livewithfilm readers rustled?

Manigold’s post-western crime thriller follows desperate rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) as his path crosses with outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe). After Wade is captured by the law-men of a nearby town, Evans chooses to escort the murderer to prison, claiming the reward money that his family so desperately needs. Yet Wade’s ruthless gang will not give up their leader so easily. Travelling through deserts and mountains, Evans and his band must confront the violence that Wade pulls in tow.

As noted above, 3:10 to Yumaimmediately held post-western pretentions; the farmers are poor and desperate and law-men are quick to turn against their morals. As two of the gruffest character actors in cinema, Bale and Crowe are suitably cast in such an unforgiving epic. Channelling the bleak outlook of the despairing rancher, Bale summons his hoarsest tones (Batman via John Conner). Crowe responds with a baritone so profound that when the pair meets on screen, 3:10 to Yumarecalls a confrontation between industrial sanders. Unfortunately, Manigold’s film departs from its dark undercurrent once Evans and Wade reach the final town. Whilst Crowe seems adequately sinister (his association with the filmic hero only slightly reducing the validity of Wade), the saccharine sweet final scenes of 3:10 to Yumacorrupt memory of the preceding two hours. Whilst livewithfilm enjoys a cheerful ending as much as the next blog, Manigold’s western sat uncomfortably with the positive moral changes that it envisioned. Although the desert is stained with blood and bullet cases, 3:10 toYuma would have been a stronger piece if it aligned itself with either the depths of despondency or a fantasy world of mutable antiheroes. In alternating between the two, neither rings true. Much like the mercenaries who decide to protect their ill-fated money coach, 3:10 toYuma is bought down by the final choice that it makes.

Manigold’s western remains an interesting piece that explores the divisions present in a society where the evil run free and the hardworking struggle to survive. The emphasis that such a setting places upon masculinity is frequently touched upon, the expectation that Evans’ son places on his father remaining touching throughout. However, the unfortunate aftertaste of 3:10 toYumaremains that of a missed opportunity. A pistol shot of a film that shoots on target, only to fall at the last moment as it loses faith in its convictions.