WESTERN; 1hr 57min
STARRING: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale
Heading for a showdown: from left, Crowe and Bale
The initial film of Elmore Leonard’s 1953 short story “3.10 to Yuma” was made in 1957, but Walk the Line director James Mangold’s reinvention of the compulsive western has a clean, modern velocity. Crowe, untouchably cool, is outlaw Ben Wade, a bad man with a mild manner and a quick wit. Bale is a model of stern integrity as Wade’s moral opposite, Arizona rancher Dan Evans. Because Evans is church-mouse poor and struggling to provide for his wife (Gretchen Mol) and two sons (Logan Lerman and Ben Petry), he reluctantly volunteers to join the team (Peter Fonda, Dallas Roberts, Kevin Durand and Alan Tudyk) escorting the lootin’, shootin’, murderin’ Wade to justice. Their three-day cross-country ordeal will test the limits of everyone involved.
Hard men, hard times, potentially deadly head games and hot and heavy action cast the Old West in a harsh, enthralling light. There is a final showdown, of course, in which the few survivors take the measure of themselves — but by then, we already know where we stand.