|STARRING:||Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol|
|WRITER(S):||Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas, Elmore Leonard (source material)|
|RELEASED:||September 7, 2007|
|MPAA RATING:||R for violence and some language|
Daniel Evans (Bale) is a poor rancher trying to make it out West with his wife and two sons, and having a hard time making it work. Evans is figuratively and almost literally a one legged man in an ass-kicking contest (he lost one of his feet in the Civil War). His youngest boy has tuberculosis, and in order to pay for medicine, he had to take loans that he can’t make enough money to repay, as it’s not easy to raise good cattle with a drought.
About to lose his small ranch and become homeless, opportunity opens the door a crack when notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) is successfully robs his 22nd stage coach. After paying his gang and dispatching them to Mexico for some R&R, Wade decided to take some R&R himself with a local tavern wench…turns out he hung around five minutes to long and got himself in chains. Desperate for money to keep his family going, Evans takes volunteers to join the authorities in transporting Wade to the prison train going to Yuma.
Naturally, Wade’s gang finds out about this and they are none to happy that their boss is going to be hanged. As you could guess, they set out hot on their trails, hell bent on rescuing their leader and continuing their adventures in thievery, murder, and outright debauchery.
Along the journey, Wade makes several semi-successful escape attempts, and even makes generous offers to Evans for his freedom. Offers far exceeding what Evans even asked to be paid for the job. Evans however, remains loyal to the side of justice, and while they may not have become friends, it becomes apparent (to me anyway) that Wade has taken a liking to Evans and has developed an understanding, a respect, and possibly even a bit of an admiration for this man that down and out but refuses to sell out.
Bale and Crowe deliver as you might expect, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ben Foster as Wade’s top lieutenant Charlie Prince. I’m starting to believe this guy is an up and comer. He’s gone from being the guy with all the piercings in The Punisher, to a psychopath in Hostage, and now an outlaw gunslinger. Apparently he was also on Six Feet Under, but I never saw the show. Might be a name to watch for in the future.
This is a fantastic film in my personal opinion…if I didn’t think it was, I wouldn’t give it 5 stars. It ranks right along with other great recent westerns like Tombstone and The Unforgiven, but slightly ahead of them in my book. The action is great, the story keeps you locked to the screen, the casting was dead on balls perfect, the direction…well I’m not educated in the ways of movie making but I have to believe that the direction had to be outstanding.
If you are a fan of westerns, watch this movie. If you are a fan of Russell Crowe or Christian Bale, watch this movie. If you like action flicks, watch this movie. If you like good movies in general, watch this movie. If you haven’t gotten the point yet, I’ll try one more time: WATCH THIS MOVIE!!! The Sandman commands it!