I saw 3:10 to Yuma yesterday- the remake, that is. It's good. In the truest sense of the word, it is good. Though a little slow at times, it's an interesting step towards the revitalization of the genre and there are some spectacular performances.
I'm especially amazed by Ben Foster. He was absolutely terrifying, in the way a cornered wild animal is terrifying. He plays a desperate, compulsive gunman driven by loyalty- and conversely- an absolute lack of conscience. His mindset is not one of coherent reason, but of swift and damning action. His on-paper one-dimensional character comes across as multifaceted on screen. He is a kamikaze Old West rockstar with six-shooters (sporting the best threads of any of the characters.)
After seeing Foster play a few bad guys as of late, I realized that his rather closely-spaced eyes lend themselves to a subconsciously "predatory" look. But while watching his interview on Charlie Rose, there is nothing "villainous" about him at all- he's timid- almost melancholy. It sounds obvious, but if you see the movie and then the interview, there is practically no semblance of the man in the character or vice versa. The change is extraordinary. Keep in mind, he didn't undergo any sort of huge physical change for the role (he has a beard... big deal.) He just has an incredibly expressive face and is a richly talented and compelling actor unafraid of a challenge.
With this movie, Russel Crowe is back on my good list. He seemed to relish playing his character and ran with it- a charming and deceitful outlaw, who chooses between killing men or breaking them. He's so good, it's almost hard NOT to root for him, though he's obviously a bad man (albeit a complex one.) Christian Bale never left my good list and gave a solid performance as a desperate, down-on-his-luck everyman.
The relatively straightforward plot of 3:10 to Yuma is given substantial depth by a rounded cast and dynamic but classic direction. It will be interesting to see how The Assassination of Jesse James, There Will Be Blood, and my pick, No Country for Old Men all compare to this, both in terms of quality and of bringing something new to the classic but somewhat passé genre of Western. The bar has been set.