Your faithful DVD reviewer hopes you’re looking forward to one of the best films of 2007, 3:10 to Yuma, when the Russell Crowe-Christian Bale-starring Western rides into video town next Tuesday, Jan. 8.
With more echoes of Oscar-winning classic High Noon than 1957’s original Yuma starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, director James Mangold’s film is exciting, absorbing and philosophically potent. The tale of a luckless farmer (Bale) who bravely agrees to take a captured outlaw (Crowe) to prison, it’s violent, all right, but not as a dramatic crutch, especially considering the powerful performances of its stars. Crowe is erudite, charismatic and quietly indomitable, while Bale is heart-breakingly flawed yet courageous. Ben Foster deserves a supporting-actor Oscar nod for his gun-crazy punk in Crowe’s employ, and don’t overlook Peter Fonda as one of Bale’s fellow escorts. Talk about icons — and yes, he has Western roots. The Hired Hand, anyone?
Normally I balk at Hollywood’s ceaseless hypefest, but in this film’s case — busted! Yep, that’s me, quoted endlessly on Yuma, from its DVD box’s front cover to its national TV ads to its web spots, in each case proclaiming it “The best Western since Unforgiven!”
So hysterically hypey. So shameless. So — wait a minute.
For one thing, keep in mind that the exclamation point wasn’t mine. Studios have always done that. Call it misleading, or call it “emphasis for artistic license.” For another, consider that calling anything the best Western in 15 years is almost like celebrating the best ice hockey team in the Sahara — there just aren’t a lot from which to choose.
But that’s not Yuma’s fault. The fact is, it’s a great film, and great films deserve special praise. Check it out next week. You’ll be glad you did.