Walk the Line director James Mangold’s update of Delmer Daves’ 1957 Western runs about a half-hour longer than the Columbia Pictures original, but it still feels like a quickie Western in an era that has abandoned quickie Westerns. Then and now, 3:10 to Yuma doesn’t have the deep emotional crevasses of the great Westerns, either the ones that built up the legend of the West (Stagecoach, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon) or those that demolished it (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Unforgiven). But under Mangold’s sure if uninspired hand, the new Yuma is reasonably exciting and terse, and, like its predecessor, built around a memorable villain of ambiguous villainy. In the 1957 version, the fearsome bandit Ben Wade was played by the late Glenn Ford with a canny mixture of sadism and gentlemanly manner — the sort of man who would just as soon shake your hand as shoot you. In Mangold’s spin, Russell Crowe steps into Wade’s spurs, and the result is a performance arguably more rooted in a ’50s idiom than Ford’s was at the time. That is, Crowe commands the screen with the effortless authority and mythic aura of the Golden Age movie stars — that alchemic interplay of an actor’s own personality and that of the character he’s playing — and he brings to the part a multitude of shadings that weren’t there before. As he is marched toward the titular locomotive by a band of volunteer deputies led by the impoverished farmer Dan Evans (Christian Bale), Crowe’s Wade becomes something more than just a sinisterly charming self-preservationist: He’s a Darwinian gunslinger with a flash of dangerous intelligence in his eyes, as if he had thought long and deeply about the role of man in the universe and come to the conclusion that he was no different from any other animal. (Citywide)

—Scott Foundas

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