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"Don't be Late for this Train"

Written by Steven Walker

I don’t like Westerns.  I have no interest in spurs unless there is a basketball involved.  I’m not a fan of horses unless they are being crushed by giant elephants.  I don’t gander to cowboy boots or hats unless they are the only thing a woman is wearing.  It might be unfair to dismiss an entire genre like that, but I’m pretty sure I can count the number of westerns I like on one hand.   Thankfully, 3:10 to Yuma feels more like a contemporary thriller dressed in rawhide.  And it has a Gatling Gun.

I’d like to talk about how poignant and moving the father/son story in this film is, but really I didn’t care.  Christian Bale plays yet another dour, wounded man who never smiles.  He is good as usual, but he seems to avoid choosing roles that require range.  The only character he plays who smiles is Bruce Wayne, and wouldn’t you know it, that happy-go-lucky persona is just an act.

Their story also treads some very worn ground with the father-won’t-let-his-son-be-a-man-even-through-he-is-obviously-capable plotline.  Could it possibly be that the boy will slowly learn to respect his father by the end of the film?  Could it also be that a tragic yet noble sacrifice will keep the pair from enjoying this new respect?  This would really bother me except for the fact that it has a Gatling Gun.     

This film’s only reason for existing is the ultimate antagonistic duo of Anti-hero Ben Wade and true villain Charlie Prince.  Every second that these characters are on screen, the movie is alive.  Ben Wade is the kind of guy that just oozes confidence and charm.  He has a Jack Sparrow quality to him.  A swagger that says, “I’m a step ahead of everyone else in the room but they won’t realize till it’s too late.”  The entire sequence where Ben picks off his guards one by one is better than any recent horror movie with a similar sequence.  I have no trouble believing that his leadership could inspire fierce and murderous loyalty.

Plus the movie has Kevin Durand in it.  Anyone who has been a reoccurring character on Lost gets a free pass in my book.

I have a major soft spot for bad guys with a strict code of honor, even if it is morally skewed.  I love the decision Ben makes in the final scene.  It’s a powerful ending, and the movie has the good sense to actually end and get off the stage.  The first time I saw it I was dreading an epilogue with the son all grown up and was so happy when the credits started to roll.  This welcome brevity earns 3:10 to Yuma a place of honor amongst my favorite westerns.  And it has a Gatling Gun.

 

 

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