Home > Reviews > 3:10 TO YUMA – Marco Beltrami

3:10 TO YUMA – Marco Beltrami

September 7, 2007 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Clark Douglas

There haven’t been many western films in the past couple of decades, something that many fans of cinema (including myself) have bemoaned. The few westerns that have appeared, good as they may be, seem to be carrying a lot of weight on their shoulders… they have the pressure of “reviving the cinematic western” hanging over them. With “3:10 to Yuma”, we are given an extraordinarily rare sort of western film… one that doesn’t seem to realize that the western is dead. It’s a lively, sad, rousing, funny motion picture that provides intelligent, but unpretentious entertainment from start to finish.

The film’s Good Guy is Dan Evans (Christian Bale), a simple farmer with a wife and two sons. Dan is in a great deal of financial trouble, and powerful people would like to take away Dan’s farm to make way for the incoming railroad. One day, Dan and his kids witness a stage robbery conducted by the infamous Ben Wade (Russell Crowe), who has robbed and killed countless people. Wade is caught by the authorities, and is to be escorted to the nearest railroad station (at least a couple of days away) and put on the 3:10 train to Yuma Prison.

Because he is short on funds, Dan accepts a $200 offer to help escort Wade to the train station. A small posse accompanies Dan that includes a grizzled bounty hunter played by Peter Fonda. You’d think it would be a fairly simple task to transport a criminal from one place to another, but there are a number of factors to reckon with. First of all, Ben Wade is one smart cookie, a deceptively charming man capable of harsh violence and clever trickery. Secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the posse is being sought by Ben Wade’s gang, led by the intensely vicious Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). And third… well, there’s just a lot of unexpected obstacles that are bound to turn up, and they do.

The film is based on a story written by Elmore Leonard, and that may explain it’s tone. The movie is quite violent, sometimes intensely dramatic, but often rather darkly humorous, and full of colorful, credible characters. The two lead characters both have a challenge to overcome. Bale has to avoid seeming like a clichéd, dull, one-dimensional good guy, and Crowe has to find a way t make some semi-suspicious character improbabilities work. Both succeed with flying colors, a perhaps w expect them to. These are two of the hardest-working actors in Hollywood, both 100% committed to investing as much of themselves a possible into a performance. Bale is serious, quietly determined, and suffers every day to overcome the obstacles life has handed him. He also strives to retain the loyalty of his older son (Logan Lerman), who is perhaps too easily charmed by Ben Wade.

Then, who wouldn’t be charmed? We, the audience, frequently have to pinch ourselves as a reminded of just how violent Ben Wade is. He’s almost impossible not to like… understated, charming, well-mannered, intelligent, and generally magnetic. There’s a nice parallel between the characters in this film and the actors in this film… the Ben Wade character is easily the most interesting one, whoever plays him can steal the movie by default. In the hand of an actor like Crowe, nobody else stands a chance. The extremely talented Bale, on the other hand, has to scratch and claw for any praise he may get, his character is the rustiest item in a room full of shiny things. It’s hard to say whether the movie “belongs” to one actor or the other, and that doesn’t much matter… both are fabulous, do exactly what they should do, and that is that. One also gets the sense that either of these actors could have played either of these roles, and the results would have been equally satisfying.

A lot of praise has deservedly been tossed the way of Ben Foster, who plays the real villain of the film. Ben Wade’s savage right hand man. Foster makes a much bigger impression here than he did as the tortured angel in “X-Men: The Last Stand”. He reminded me a great deal of a young Woody Harrelson, he has that crazed “Natural Born Killers” look in his eye. It’s also a pleasure to have Peter Fonda on hand, whose father (Henry Fonda) was in so many fantastic westerns. Even the small characters like Dan’s wife (Gretchen Mol) and the sniveling gunman (Kevin Durand) are well-developed.

Marco Beltrami contributes quite a lot to the proceedings with his fantastic score, a classy, intelligent example of pacing and build-up. Beltrami begins the score on a low key, quiet themes, subtle suspense, guitar strummings, gentle premonitions, and slowly works his way towards the slam-bang finale, in which he pulls out all the stops. The music in the film’s final half hour is nothing short of thrilling, with dynamic solos turns from the electric guitar and trumpet, in particular. Beltrami does admittedly owe a certain debt to Ennio Morricone in terms of style, but this is by no means a second-rate imitation. Beltrami’s own voice is lathered all over this music, there’s never any question as to who wrote it. No, it’s not quite “Once Upon a Time in the West” or “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”, but it’s about as close as we’re likely to get for quite a while. Let’s hope this one gets an album release, it’s a terrific score!

Director James Mangold has made a string of decent films over the course of his career (“Cop Land”, “Girl, Interrupted”, “Walk the Line”, “Kate and Leopold”), and this is his most confident. He paces the film very well, and brings a certain level of excitement and stylish realism to the action scenes. Unlike some of his previous efforts, there’s no sense that Mangold is yearning for award recognition here. Instead, he seems to have set out to simply make a very good movie, and in doing so, has made his best movie to date. Highly recommended.

Rating: ****½

Track Listing:

  • Main Title (1:07)
  • Ben Takes the Stage/Dan’s Burden (5:45)
  • Man of His Word (0:59)
  • Bisbygliando (1:23)
  • Barn Burn (2:02)
  • Chinatown (1:39)
  • Indian Grounds (2:50)
  • Chinese Democracy (2:51)
  • One for the Road/Storm Clouds (4:11)
  • Trial By Fire (1:58)
  • Flight of the Princess (1:59)
  • Ben There Done That (1:36)
  • Gang Arrives (1:42)
  • Ben Arrested (4:00)
  • It’s Time (1:02)
  • Hotel (0:41)
  • One Man Left (3:07)
  • William Escapes (1:45)
  • Bible Study (2:35)
  • Who Let the Cows Out? (1:32)
  • The 3: 10 to Yuma (2:07)

Running Time: 47 minutes 02 seconds

iTunes Exclusive Download (2007)

Music composed and conducted by Marco Beltrami. Orchestrations by Buill Boston, Dana Niu and Rossano Gallante. Recorded and mixed by John Kurlander. Edited by Jim Schultz. Score produced by Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: