An important note I feel should be made is that I don’t really care for westerns. Out of all the genres, I’ve always found westerns to seem the most Hollywood, and its never seemed to be done the way it should be. Granted, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly (and the rest of the trilogy) is an exception, and I haven’t seen the original 3:10 to Yuma, the 2007 remake is easily one of the best westerns I’ve cautiously, but appreciatively watched. What is strange, and rather unfortunate considering this is a review of the film, is that I really don’t have a lot to say, especially given my nature of writing reviews pages in length. This isn’t a bad thing, however.
The biggest aspect the movie has going for it is the overall look of the characters, and that’s something that I don’t think it done very much anymore. Every person you see is filthy, looks as if they would smell horrible, presents themselves poorly, and have little to no good characteristics (physically speaking), except for a few rich men, and two women. This is how I would imagine people looking during this time period, more so when you think about how they live. All their clothing is stained, dusty, and looks heavy. Their guns appear old, cold, and primitive. Their teeth are bad (something I smiled at, I hate when movies show people in older time periods with perfectly white, sparkling teeth), hair a mess, facial hair is usually anything but perfected, and the accents are spot on (which I think is worth mentioning considering Bale is from Wales, something not a lot of people realize).
This all makes everything else just that much more believable, and that’s a hard thing to do: make a movie believable. Everything looked the part, and by that I mean it didn’t look like a set, something I’ve come to miss. These days virtually everything is GCI, and done in front of a screen, or shot on a small set with an environment digitally added in the background. Not this movie though, you’re going to feel like they went out somewhere west, found some desolate town that’s probably a museum or tourist attraction, and shot a movie. More to the realism are the actions in which the characters make. You aren’t going to see anybody shooting a rope from miles away, you aren’t going to see men shot multiple times and live, and you aren’t going to see anybody jump off a train onto a horse. When a man is shot, he’s pretty much out of luck. When something happens, you kind of cringe realizing it isn’t overdone, it’s just real looking. One shot in particular shows a man being shot with a shotgun from a relatively close distance, and rather than exploding into a cloud of blood, or flying back several feet from a window, his chest and stomach pop open, and he collapses. That’s it. The realistic approach to something like this is very welcoming, as it tends to be more painful looking than the more-popular-than-ever gore-tactics.
The story, while very simple, is extremely effective as it deals with issues and themes everybody can relate to: shame, desperation, and fear. Bale is a rancher on the verge of having his home taken from him, and after having a run-in with a robber and overall bad guy, he’s hired to help transport him to a train station for a pay of 200 dollars. All throughout the movie you’ll pick up on little moments, and hints, to what characters are thinking and feeling, and you’ll get it right way. You’ll never question anything, you’ll just understand. Bale’s character is an overall sad one, and while you’ll want him to win in the end, you’ll sort of be hoping everything somehow works out for Crowe, as his character is surprisingly likable and charismatic, while extremely intimidating and ruthful. That’s the other thing, while Crowe is the “bad guy” of the film, the real threat is Ben Foster’s character, and I’m not going to spoil anything about him, except for that he’s an absolute horror of a person. You’ll hate him. There’s also an unaccredited cameo made by Luke Wilson, who also plays a sort of bastard you won’t like. And everybody does a spot on job, and you’ll easily be convinced these aren’t actors, there are real people. It won’t be long until people are using Christian Bale’s name the same way people still use Tom Hanks. He’s an amazing actor, and this is one of those films that really showcase that. Even more noteworthy is how odd their relationship is throughout the movie. They both display such a strange connection, and a chemistry that makes you sort of with they were in cahoots together.
It’s rare that I can look at a movie and really find little to nothing really wrong with it, but I would never trust a review that said nothing bad about a movie, so I’ll just find something wrong with it. The ending, and I do mean the last minute or so, not the last 10-20 minutes, felt rushed. It’s not disappointing by any means, but when it happens, if you’re like me, you’ll be hoping that it isn’t ending right that second. Well, sorry, but it is. Other than that, I can’t really find anything bad about the movie, honestly. That’s a rare thing, especially since it’s a genre I don’t even like. I highly recommend seeing this film.