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3:10 to Yuma (2007)

Most cold-blooded killers are, after all, misunderstood.

Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) has been on the run, gun slingin’, robbin’, killin’, and committing all sorts of crimes that have him number one on every person’s bounty list. However, Wade is a pretty ruthless man, to where he can get away from anyone looking to reel him in for justice; it also helps that he’s got the helping hand of his band of fellow thugs, especially his go-to-guy, Charlie (Ben Foster). But eventually, Ben gets caught by the local law and ready for the 3:10 train to take him to Yuma. But in order to get him there, he’ll have to be transported among many lines, where everyone is looking to take Ben down and get a little piece of the reward-money pie. However, Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is just looking to do this so that he can get some money, save his farm, and go home to his family, where he can feel like a responsible man again. As expected though, the trip goes through all sorts of bumps, bruises, and plenty of violence, where one thing leads to another, and it’s never very clear if Ben will ever get on that train and behind bars, like he should.

"Hold it! I'm not Batman here, but other places. Kind of."

“Hold it! I’m not Batman here, but other places. Kind of.”

3:10 to Yuma is the rare kind of Western that not only revitalizes the genre, but also proves why it’s so great in the first place. It doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel of the genre, make up new rules, and play by its own game, but instead, take everything that you know and love from all those other classics, bring them together, and let you have a great time. It’s as if it’s own beast, entirely, even if, yeah, it’s actually a remake, too.

Still, even if 3:10 to Yuma isn’t the most original story out there, it more than makes up for it in all the thrilling, exciting and rather unpredictable action-sequences that take place over its two-hours. James Mangold is a perfect fit for this material, because he knows exactly how to make it all crackle and pop, without ever seeming like he’s out of his depth. Even though Mangold sure does love to jump around from genre to genre, with sheer reckless abandon, it seems like the action-genre may be the one he sticks with, not just because he seems to enjoy it the most, but because he actually seems to know what he’s doing with it, as opposed to those like Michael Bay, or McG.

Why on Earth did I just mention McG’s name?

Anyway, moving on. 3:10 to Yuma more than gets by with its action, but at the heart of it all, and perhaps what makes it more than just another fun and exciting romp through the Old West, is that it’s also the tale of two interesting, challenging, and complex men. Both Christian Bale and Russell Crowe put in great work here, going beyond the silly accents, and showing that there’s more to these two guys. Crowe’s Wade may be a ruthless, toothless (not really, he has quite the set of chompers), and almost sadistic killer, but he’s also got a set of morals and he’s quite the charmer. Whereas, on the other side of the coin, Bale’s Dan is a man with plenty of morals, a simpleton, and family man, but at the same time, won’t hesitate to kill, if he ever has to.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Ben Foster. Up to his usual tricks of not taking a shower to prep for a role.

Both men are different, yes, but they’re also quite alike in many ways, too, and it’s what makes 3:10 to Yuma quite compelling to watch.

Even when the action is gone for a short while and everyone’s sitting around a fire, eating beans, chewing the fat, it’s still entertaining to watch; the cast is so good, the characters so well-defined, and the script is actually polished. And with Bale and Crowe’s performances, we get to see two men who, despite being on opposites of the social spectrum, still respect the other enough to know where they come from, what their ideals are, and why they are, the way they are in the world. It almost comes close to a bromance, except for the fact that they do try and kill each other every so often, but even then, who knows.

Bromances work in mysterious ways, sometimes.

But anyway, aside from both Crowe and Bale, the ensemble’s a pretty good one. A very young Logan Lerman shows that he can hold his own as Dan’s son; Dallas Roberts plays the sheriff who has to take Wade in with Dan and shows that even the scrawniest of men, with a gun, can still kind of be bad-ass; Peter Fonda shows up and brings some class; Kevin Durand is, as expected, pretty crazy; Luke Wilson has a fun cameo; and Ben Foster, as Wade’s right-hand man, is so crazy, so deranged and so evil, that he almost ends up stealing the show. But still, it’s Bale’s and Crowe’s show to the end and when they’re together, their scenes never stop igniting the spark and make you wish that they’d work together more and more. It doesn’t even have to be in Westerns.

Couldn’t hurt, though.

Consensus: Even if it’s still a Western through and through, 3:10 to Yuma is a tense, exciting and incredibly well-acted piece of entertainment.

8 / 10

Look at 'em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Look at ’em. Trying so hard not to make-out and measure sizes.

Photos Courtesy of: AV Club, Rotten Tomatoes 


Jane Got a Gun (2016)

But how easy was it for her to get that gun? Any background checks?

One morning, one just like any other one, where her husband has gone out for work, her daughter is playing in the front-yard, the sun is setting, the weather is nice, and there doesn’t seem to be a single chill in the air, something happens to Jane (Natalie Portman) that changes her life forever. Her husband (Noah Emmerich) ends up coming home, but with two bullet holes in him. Why did he get these? How? Who is to blame? Well, turns out that her hubby has been on the run from the law for quite some time and because of that, he’s been targeted by the ruthless and vicious John Bishop (Ewan McGregor), and the rest of his ragtag group of bastards, and now, they’re coming to finish off the job and, possibly, get rid of Jane, too. Obviously, Jane isn’t going to go down without a fight, which is why she knocks on the door of her ex-boyfriend (Joel Edgerton) to help fight off these evil baddies. Obviously, this brings up old feelings of love and remorse – something that doesn’t always go well with blood and violence.

Jane has her gun.

Jane has her gun.

At one point in time, Jane Got a Gun was promising to be a pretty awesome movie. With the likes of Michael Fassbender, Natalie Portman, and director Lynne Ramsay attached to it, it not only had some bright and shiny talents to make it sound good, but possibly be good, too. Then, things got fishy. For one, Fassbender left, then so did Jude Law, and though he was cast, Bradley Cooper was the next to hit the road. While this is clearly no good for any project, still, the fact that it still featured Portman, Ramsay, and Joel Edgerton was fine enough to make it seem still at least somewhat promising. Then, inexplicably, Ramsay left on the first day of shooting and ever since then, Jane Got a Gun has been a whirlwind of confusion, release date movements, under-seen advertising and, yes, a terrible box-office.

But who’s fault is that, really?

Sure, you could put a lot of the blame on the Weinsteins for allowing Jane Got a Gun to run as out of control as it did, but at the same time, this is just what happens when you’re working in Hollywood. People don’t always stick with projects, schedules conflict, and yeah, not every project turns out the way you want it to. The only thing you can hope for is that at least some part of the original vision is still to be found, and not totally abandoned because, well, it had to be.

And in the case of Jane Got a Gun, it’s obvious that the vision and final product that director Gavin O’Connor comes together with, was very different from Ramsay. Obviously, it’s clear what attracted Ramsay to a story like this; one about a strong, female character, front and center, taking over her life, kicking ass, and making baddies pay for it, all while in front of some beautiful landscapes. However, what would have been a very interesting movie with her take, gets lost in O’Connor’s, where it’s less about building the character of Jane and instead, showing us how terrible her life is, while focusing a whole lot more on the action than anything else.

Joel doesn't.

Joel doesn’t.

Which isn’t to say that the movie is nearly as bad as it’s made out to be. Sure, it’s disappointing, given the cast and crew involved, but at times, it can still be a enjoyable enough Western to where it doesn’t feel like the studio tinkered around with it enough to ruin it, nor does it feel like everyone involved was just cashing it in. Somewhere along the way, yes, Jane Got a Gun was probably left without any spirit or hope, but there’s some effort given on O’Connor’s part, where it seems like he wants to make a pretty Western, and does a fine job at that. Not to mention that some of the action is actually entertaining, as well as bloody – something that you don’t too often see in Westerns nowadays, unless they’re really trying to not make money at the box-office.

Oh, and the cast is pretty good, too.

Sure, nobody here really excels better than the rest, because the script doesn’t seem too concerned with actually building their characters, or giving them any distinct personalities, but hey, they work with what they’ve got and sometimes, that’s all you need. Portman does a lot of stern and somewhat scared staring as Jane; Joel Edgerton takes on his character with a sweeter touch; Noah Emmerich’s husband character doesn’t get to do much except rile in bed and occasionally make his presence known; and Ewan McGregor, as the main baddie of the film, tries to give at least something of a sinister spin, but other than a pretty bad-ass ‘stache, doesn’t make much of an impression. Once again, it’s not his, or anybody else’s fault here for not making a mark, but yeah, they’re all doing their things and that is, for the most part, fine.

However, while watching Jane Got a Gun, I couldn’t help but feel like nothing was really happening. Sure, there’s a story in which we’re told that a bunch of gun-slingin’ rebels are going to start coming for Jane and her loved ones, but there’s no real tension behind it. Also, there’s a whole bunch of flashbacks that are meant to help us understand these characters and their relationships a whole lot more, but for some reason, they don’t add much of any emotion or interest. It helps that we get at least some context, but when it’s so weak and underdeveloped as this, it’s almost like what’s the point?

If anything, just give us more action and violence. That’s the least you could try and do if you’re not going to give us anything of real intrigue.

Consensus: While not nearly the disastrous mess you’d expect from all of the production scandals, Jane Got a Gun is still a bit of a dull movie, not utilizing a cast to their full talents, nor ever getting its story off the ground.

5 / 10

But he'll teach her how to gun sling anyway.

But he’ll teach her how to gun sling anyway.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz