Dan Evans is an ex-Union Army sharpshooter who lost part of his leg during the Civil War. His injury has not only left him damaged physically, but also has damaged his self-esteem and cost him the respect of his eldest son. Yet he’s still got enough determination in him to doggedly hang onto the idea of making his small ranch in Bisbee successful enough to support his wife, Alice (Gretchen Mol), and their two sons: Will (Logan Lerman) and Mark (Benjamin Petry).
However fate has plans for Dan and they involve outlaw Ben Wade. Ben Wade and his infamous gang of thieves and murderers are the stuff legends are made of. Wade’s exploits have been written up in countless small town newspapers and his reputation as the baddest of the bad is well-deserved. If there’s anyone who rivals Ben in terms of ruthlessness it’s his right-hand man, Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). Charlie’s loyalty knows no boundaries, and once Wade becomes the prisoner of Southern Pacific Railroad representative Grayson Butterfield (Dallas Roberts), Charlie’s ferocity in trying to free his boss is matched only by the level of depravity he’ll sink to in order to get the job done.
The posse is made up of men with varying degrees of skill at handling guns. Bounty hunter Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda) took a bullet to the stomach when Wade robbed the stage he was protecting on its way to Bisbee (a hold-up witnessed by Dan and his boys). Byron survived and his hatred for Wade has grown into a crusade to bring the renegade to justice. In addition to Byron, Butterfield and Dan Evans, the town’s veterinarian Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk) is recruited to come along - despite the fact he’s not much of a shot. Tucker (Kevin Durand), a sadistic thug who works for Hollander and was responsible for actually lighting Dan’s barn on fire, also joins the posse.
But the ragtag group quickly discover arresting Wade was the easiest part of the job. Placing him securely onboard a train is quite another. Wade’s gang isn’t about to let their leader go off to jail without putting up a ferocious battle. Complicating matters is Wade himself. Wade’s not only highly skilled at killing, he’s also highly skilled at the art of manipulation and does his best to play on Dan’s decent nature.
Ben Wade’s murdered dozens of innocent people yet when he turns on the swaggering bad boy charm or uses his wit and intelligence to outsmart most of his captors, strangely enough passing a few days in his presence becomes an appealing prospect. That’s entirely thanks to the way Oscar-winner Crowe inhabits the role. Crowe masterfully pulls off the part of a killer who the audience doesn’t want to believe is rotten to the core. Did Ben Wade allow himself to be captured in the first place and if so, why? There’s so much to figure out and Crowe’s gripping portrayal of the enigmatic and dangerous Wade is absolutely perfect.
Bale is one of our finest actors and in 3:10 to Yuma he delivers one of his best performances. Bale’s simply amazing as a rancher willing to go to desperate lengths to gain his son’s respect and approval. Whether he’s attired in Batman’s mask and cape or the ragged remains of a U.S. fighter pilot’s uniform, there’s a rawness and realism to every project Bale’s involved with, and 3:10 to Yuma’s one of the best examples of Bale’s ability to completely grasp a character’s motivations and sell it to an audience.
Page 2: The Bottom Line