(Warning: spoilers ahead)
Remarkably, movie critics chose to ignore this gaping chasm of a problem and turned “3:10 to
Bruce Westbrook, movie critic for the Houston Chronicle, actually called “3:10 to
However, like all of our fantastically bad cinema selections, “3:10 to Yuma” is so god awful that there’s some delight to be had – especially watching Russell Crowe turn in his most overwrought, overacted performance yet as Ben Wade, a notorious outlaw with an intellectual heart of gold. Wade likes to make pencil sketches of birds and people before he goes off robbing and killing. The cad!
The plot is straight forward, but its execution is preposterous. Meet struggling rancher Dan Evans, played with seething intensity by Christian Bale (Bale needs to do a light romantic comedy). Evans is on the verge of bankruptcy and losing the faith of his wife and two sons.
So when Wade is captured after robbing a train company’s payroll coach (and murdering at least four men), Evans volunteers to be part of the posse that will escort Wade to the
Be prepared for your hopes to be dashed.
The posse falls asleep around a campfire and Wade – using a fork pilfered from Evan’s ranch – proceeds to hack one of the posse members to death with it. This is the first instance where you slap and your head in disbelief. Why didn’t the posse tie Wade up? Isn’t he a ruthless mass murderer? If they couldn’t manage that no-brainer shouldn’t one of them have stayed up to guard him?
Another member of the posse – a bounty hunter – beats Wade senseless and – get this – the other posse members stop him. “That’s enough!” Huh? Didn’t Wade just stab one of them to death while they slept? Aren’t they escorting Wade to
Not this posse. They continue on their merry way to
The rest of the posse manages to get the drop on Wade before he escapes – but do they kill him? Nope. Not even after the bastard has murdered two of them in cold blood. And neither do they tie and gag him. So, of course, Wade escapes again.
This time Wade is captured by railroad thugs guarding the Chinese workers as they build the transcontinental railway. One of the thugs recognizes Wade because Wade killed his brother. So the thugs torture Wade with the intention of killing him.
Guess what? Risking their lives, the posse, lead by Evans, rescues Wade. They shoot it out with the railroad thugs and another one of the posse is shot and killed. Can you believe this? This is the dumbest goddamn posse in the world. By this point you’re rolling your eyes so much that you have a headache.
The posse finally gets Wade to Contention – the town with the train to
The railway man hires the local marshal and his men to help guard Wade, but when Wade’s gang of cutthroats ride into town to rescue him – well those cowardly lawmen flee (only to be shot down unarmed by Wade’s gang).
The railway man tells Evans its time to it give up and offers to pay him the money he needs save his ranch and get out of debt. He tells Evans that it’s over that they are outnumbered and outgunned. So does Evans quit to save his life and son’s and live to bail out his family?
Nah! Why give up after you’ve gotten seven men killed so far? Evans decides he’ll take Wade to the train station alone and get him on that blasted train if it is the last thing he does (although he probably was kicking himself for not hiding out at the train station in the first place).
Evans and Wade – clock ticking toward 3:10 p.m. – share a moment in the hotel room. Here’s the brilliant analysis of that scene by movie critic Roger Ebert: “Crowe and Bale play this dialogue so precisely that it never reveals itself for what it really is, a testing of mutual insight. One trial of a great actor is the ability to let dialog do its work invisibly…” Yeah, I’m a huge fan of invisible dialog.
So what happens? Inexplicably, Wade decides to help Evans deliver him to the train station. They’ll do it together (against Wade’s loyal gang of cutthroats)! Why Wade just doesn’t order his men not to shoot at them and then stroll down to the station is, well, stupid.
So they dodge, duck, run, and fight against Wade’s gang all the way to the train station. And if you were expecting action? Forget it. This is one of the worst gunfights in cinema history – with thousands of bullets flying and only bad guys being shot (because everyone knows they can’t aim).
Evans ends up dead – shot by Wade’s loyal lieutenant. He is, after all, trying to rescue his boss. Psycho killer Wade, distraught that his men have actually had the audacity to succeed in freeing him, guns them down in revenge for Evans’ murder.
Do yourself a favor and only rent “3:10 to
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If you are going to make long-winded criticisms of a movie then it helps if you do actually understand it. Otherwise, as you prove here, when you spout off about the movie's short-comings you only draw attntion to your own.
Ben Wade didn't kill Charlie Prince in revenge for the killing of Dan Evans.
Ben Wade is a bad man. There is no proof offered of his redemption. The people who pan the ending for the redemption being unbelievable and illogical are failing into a trap of seeing what they are pre-programmed to see.
Ben Wade kills Prince because 1) He disobeyed orders. (Just as he killed on of his men in the opening scene. The clue was there.) And 2) this means he was dangerous and his gang were more a liability than an asset.
Pragmatism, not emotion, motivated his actions in wiping them out.
The train to Yuma was Wade's ticket, not to prison but to freedom. Freedom to start again, not reformed of course, but adapted to new circumstances. He is the pragmatist who uses the changing world to get what he wants. Evans on the other hand, hide-bound by his inflexible moral standpoint, falls victim to it first by losing his land to the railroad and then,indirectly, his life.
Which neatly turns on its head the classic and romanticized western tradition of the railroad and 'civilization' ending the rule of outlaws and benefiting the law-abiding.
I would also take issue with your assessment of Crowe's acting in this. I thought it was finely nuanced in Western Bad Guy terms.
I don't contend that Wade reforms (after all he whistles for his horse at the end and its clear he's going to escape). The point is, as you say, Wade is a bad man. So there's no point for him to help Evans get him to the train. Because Wade doesn't need the train to Yuma for his freedom.
But I do agree with your excellent assessment of Evans' character. However, I don't believe a man of his strict morality would purposely endanger his son and family when he no longer had to.
But thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.
Dan uses morales and Wade uses common sense, but is swayed by the morales until he is no long surrounded by them after Dans death and the gun point by Dans son.
The RT Community loved "3:10 to Yuma"
Stop being a douche because you couldn't get the movie.
The truth of the matter is that they should have busted out Wade's teeth, broke his fingers, shot his kneecaps out, and made him lick dirt the first time he murdered someone on the trail.
The whole, allowing him to remain uncrippled and able to mock and kill them, was just plain stupid.