Movie puts westerns back in the saddle

Bridget Nordquist

Bridget Nordquist

Admittedly, not every movie fan appreciates a western. Some people are just not comfortable with main street shootouts, saloon girls, crooked law enforcement and annoyingly stoic cowboys. I, however, definitely am not one of those people. I have always loved that good ol’ genre, and therefore had to see the new western 3:10 to Yuma.

The movie follows the stories of two very different men. First, we have Dan Evans, a poor rancher who is struggling to scrape by with his family in unforgiving Arizona. The other player is Ben Wade, a ruthless outlaw who, along with his gang, robs and kills. Dan and Ben’s worlds unexpectedly collide when wary Pinkerton agents capture Ben. Because he is so down on his luck, Dan volunteers to help escort Ben to the prison train in Yuma for a few hundred dollars. Several shootouts and horse chases follow as the pair make their way across Arizona.

The premise sounds ordinary enough. However, 3:10 to Yuma really comes alive thanks to its amazing cast. Christian Bale, the latest Batman, plays Dan, the desperate rancher. Bale plays Dan in such a way that I was both annoyed with his various ineptitudes and increasingly sympathetic concerning his family situation. Ben is portrayed by the always competent Russell Crowe. Like Bale, Crowe makes his character intriguingly complex. You don’t know whether to root for Ben’s escape or his incarceration. Together, Bale and Crowe become two desperate men who have more in common than they realize as they battle both mentally and physically. Other characters include the legendary Peter Fonda and a cameo by Luke Wilson.

3:10 to Yuma shoots its way out of being a clich