Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Post Hatke!

Drum rolls! Here is the first guest post on my blog. It comes from a very dear friend who sweetly asked if I would be 'kind' enough to 'host' him. Being the nice person that I am, you would know what I said.

He is a bigger movie buff than I am, so it is befitting that he is doing a movie review here. Have a ball!

They are Gonna Hang me in the Mornin'..

Sreyas S S

3:10 to Yuma is the remake of a 1957 film of the same name. Both films are based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. Dan Evans (Christian Bale) is a rancher who is struggling to support his family and is mired in debt. The creditor threatens to take over his barn in a week if he doesn’t pay up. Russell Crowe plays Ben Wade, leader of a notorious band of outlaws feared in the region for their ruthlessness. Ben Wade is cruel and evil. But they are not the only traits of his personality. He is intelligent, suave and practically oozes charm in every scene. He quotes from the bible at opportune moments during conversation and makes dainty pencil sketches of things that draw his attention. He also has a thing for women with green eyes. Crowe completely owns the role.

After robbing a stagecoach belonging to the railroad company, Ben Wade stops by at the town of Bisbee for a barmaid (Vinessa Shaw) he may have known from the past. It is there that he is caught by Butterfield (Dallas Roberts) of the railroad company and his men. Butterfield wants Wade to be handed over to the federal court in Yuma where he is certain to get a death sentence. For that they need to transport him to the town of Contention where they have to make him board the 3:10 train to Yuma. Evans volunteers to join the team that is going to escort the outlaw for $ 200. As the posse travels with their captive, they are constantly attacked by Ben’s gang led by the particularly vile Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). “I hate posses,” he says after shooting men overseeing tunnel work who also might be a posse.

Evans is the straight guy. He is just, fair and is bound to do what is right. What is at stake for him is more than the $ 200 that he is going to get for accomplishing the mission. His son William makes no bones of the fact that he doesn’t think much of his father. He is torn by the fact that he is not able to take care of his family. He is disturbed by the way his sons look at him and the way his wife (Gretchen Mol) doesn’t. In the scene in the hotel room which is arguably the best scene in the film, when the local marshals and finally even Butterfield walk out of the mission for fear of getting shot by Ben’s gang and others (as Prince makes an open offer of $ 200 to the town folk for every marshal or captor they shoot) waiting outside the hotel, Evans persists never once budging to the incredible odds at stake or to Wade’s offers of money for letting him go. When Butterfield tells him that he can have his $ 200 even if he doesn’t take Wade to the train, Evans realises that it’s no longer about the money or bringing a criminal to justice. Escorting Wade to the train becomes a chance to restore his pride and honour.

Ben Wade’s character is more complex. On one hand, he is a murderer with seemingly no remorse. He kills a guy because he taunted him in the night with a song. But for a man known to be so bad, he makes a few strange choices during the journey. Though they never openly admit it, there is a sense that the two men find something to admire in each other and even develop what maybe interpreted as respect. Russell Crowe gives a truly amazing performance bringing to life a character that has more layers to it than is visible on the surface.

At its heart, the film is a character study. And a great one at that. It deals with the ideas of honour, respect, pride and of course the ultimate question – what is good and what is bad or what is right and what is wrong. And none of this ever seems forced or contrived, it is so inherent in the plot. All this while captivating the viewer with a brilliant story that allows tension to build and build until it reaches a breathtaking crescendo. As the clock starts ticking towards 3:10, both Wade and Evans discover sides of their personality that they never thought existed or thought were long lost. I wouldn’t spoil the ending but it is so perfect and in keeping with the tone of the rest of the film that it made me feel that no other conclusion would have had the same effect.

Cinematography is awesome. Action sequences are done well with the cutting crisp and modern. The leads are supported by steady performances all round by the likes of Peter Fonda, who plays a bounty hunter with a score to settle against Wade, Alan Tudyk, who plays a doctor, Logan Lerman, who plays Evans’ elder son and Ben Foster who plays Charlie Prince, the second-in-command in Wade’s gang.

3:10 to Yuma is a brilliant film because it does one thing better than most films – tell a good story and tell it well. Not many films have left me so shaken and amazed, yet pleased and satisfied at the same time. ‘Nuff said.

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