Strike one: Russel Crowe’s in it. Strike two: I dislike Westerns, even everyone’s favorite, Unforgiven. I used to hate Westerns (and still kind of do) because of the fact that women are almost never portrayed in strong roles. I was irritated by the fact that every woman was a meek wife, a waitress/server type, or a whore. I’ve made my peace with the fact that this genre is not going to change and that it is about male bonding and man versus man/himself.
Being that this movie was already made once, I expected no different; it was true to genre. However, it was one of the better films I’ve seen this year. The pacing was spot-on: like a good symphony, it had balanced highs and lows instead of simple, full-on adrenaline. Dan Evans is a rancher who is struggling to make payments on his property. He has only been consistent at failure and is keenly aware of that fact. He backs away from his first confrontation with Ben Wade; however, as the film progresses, their relationship is that of equals. In fact, I would assert that Ben Wade feels that Evans is the better man, as evidenced in the film’s last scenes. The dialogue is complex without being stuffy. I would say the costuming is excellent, except the oddly fitted white leather jacket and fancy studded chaps on Charlie Prince. It was a strange touch that I feel will date the movie if watched in 20 years.
Critics had panned the ending as odd or wrong or, as Roeper said, “weird.” But I thought the ending perfectly befit the themes carried throughout. It showed the kind of man that Evans was and the kind of man that Wade respected (even if his show of respect was “weird”). I can’t say much more without spoiling.
I even (begrudgingly) admit that Russel Crowe was excellent.
If all you want is an action movie, 3:10 delivers; if you want to explore complex themes, this is still the movie for you.