Today’s comic is based on a real-life conversation over 3:10 to Yuma. I had made plans to see the film late Friday night after we put Henry down to sleep. Cami had no interest in the film and asked half-heartedly, “So, when does ’21 to Chalupa’ start?”
I can understand if she was confused. After all 3:10 to Yuma is a western and a chalupa is… well, kind of Tex-Mex? Odds are she was just yanking my chain. Either way, it was too cute not to include in the comic. Of course, Cami getting the titles to movies wrong isn’t anything new.
Incidentally, the little double-barrell pose I put Cami in for the second panel is now my new favorite rendition of her.
So, anyway. What did I think of 3:10 to Yuma? I’d have to say overall that I liked it, but I had a few problems with the ending that left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. You know how it is with endings. You could watch a two-hour suck-fest, but if the ending is killer that’s all you end up talking about. The opposite holds true. You can watch the best movie on two-legs, but if the ending falls flat, it’s going to leave an unfavorable impression. At the movies, last impressions count for a lot. That’s certainly the case with 3:10 to Yuma.
The move does more than a few things right. The casting is top notch. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale deliver excellent performances, as always. But the supporting cast is just as good. Peter Fonda as a Pinkerton agent Crowe’s character shoots in the gut after a stagecoach robbery is all flinty determination. Ben Foster as Crowe’s mad dog right hand gun commands the screen with scrappy, stylish authority. They even put Luke WIlson to good use in a brief cameo. All of the performances save for Logan Lerman as Bale’s impatient, hateful son hit all of the right notes.
The fact that the movie is a western is almost beside the point. The horses and the dust, the saloons and the bar maids are all dressing for what otherwise would have worked as effectively as a modern-day police procedural. The plot is simple: Russell Crowe plays the outlaw Ben Wade. He and his gang knock over an armored stagecoach. Later, while celebrating in town, Wade missteps by staying too long to bed the local bar maid. Now it’s up to an unlikely group of men to transport him to the nearest railroad station to put him on a train to a nearby prision – the 3:10 to Yuma. Bale’s Dan Evans is a rancher who lost his leg in the Civil War. He needs money to help pay off the last of his mortgage and protect his way of life. For him, the journey is as much about money and ensuring his family’s survival as it is reclaiming the dignity taken from him.
Any of this could have been easily updated to the present day. Where the movie shines is in the psychological conflict between Wade and his captors. When Crowe and Bale match wits on screen, it’s electric.
Things come down to the wire as Wade’s gang catches up to the group as they wait for the train to arrive. But as members of the posse peel away under the threat of certain death, only Bale sticks to his convictions. He has much more to lose than just his life. As the train approaches and captor and prisioner race toward the train, Crowe’s character beings to show signs of respect to the tenacious Bale.
Unfortunately, it’s at this part that the movie begins to fall apart for me. Obviously I won’t spoil the ending for you. But there are decisions that Crowe’s character makes that feels inconsistent with all of the behavior he exhibited in the first two hours. The end of the movie felt thrown together to me or at least not as well thought out as the rest of it. When it ends, it just ends. And not in a way that makes you think. Unless their goal was to make you think “Did they run out of film? Did the reel break?”
Based on the performances, it’s hard to discount 3:10 to Yuma for it’s short comings. I enjoyed the film and would encourage others to see it. I guess there were just too many times during the last act where I felt I was being tweaked and it stuck with me. I certainly don’t think that the people who have claimed 3:10 to Yuma as the best western since Unforgiven know what they’re talking about. But if you’re looking for a few sharp action pieces, this film has it. If you want a little psychological drama thrown in for shading, it’s got that, too. And most of all, it’s got great performances. So see it and judge for youself.
We’ll be talking about 3:10 to Yuma tonight on The Triple Feature talkcast over at TalkShoe. We broadcast live at 9:00 CST, so be there will bells on. We’ll also be talking about Shoot ‘Em Up – another movie I saw this weekend (and one I’ll have a comic for on Wednesday). Who knows what else will come up.
So be sure to tune in live! We’ll see you then!
You know! The western starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe!
“21 to Chalupa”
You mean 3:10 to Yuma?
Look, can we get lunch or something? I haven’t eaten yet today.
Taco Bell sound good?
Yeah. Let’s do that.