Huffing and puffing to resuscitate a long-moribund genre, James Mangold manages to imbue a 50-year-old Western with a semblance of life. Mangold's remake of 3:10 to Yuma sends a saddlebag full of Western tropes skittering into the 21st century. The original 3:10 to Yuma—newly remastered for DVD—was an "adult" Western, shot in black and white with a pair of second-tier stars, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, as the charismatic outlaw and the beleaguered cattle rancher reincarnated in the remake by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Suspense trumped violence and chin music rivaled fisticuffs (much of the movie was confined to a single hotel room) as the rancher, not altogether willingly, assumed responsibility for ensuring that the outlaw boarded the train to the federal pen at Yuma. Mangold sticks close to Delmer Daves' 1957 version but, given an extra half-hour in which to play, opens up the original scenario to include a run-in with hostile Apaches and an interlude involving the construction of the train tracks. Back in the day, America used the Western to ponder certain things—among them the nature of right and wrong and the basis of the social contract. Mangold's movie is certainly louder in its ruminations than Daves', but the story still works.
Crowe: at ease wearing the black hat.
Opens at area theaters, Fri., Sept. 7. Rated R. 117 minutes.