I caught an early screening of the 3:10 to Yuma remake last night in Woodland Hills. I've never seen the original, so I apologize if I give this movie props for things it just copied from the original (which I really want to see now). The screening organizers claimed we were the first public audience to see the film and that this cut was still unfinished, but the latter I found hard to believe. The picture looked polished, timed, and final, and outside of Avid-y opening titles and a lack of closing credits, the only things that screamed out "rough cut" to me were the sound mix and temp music. I'm curious as to whether or not picture is locked, even if this movie doesn't come out until October, because it looks pretty spotless. I love westerns, I really do. It's a genre of film that I don't always actively seek out, but am always game for when the opportunity arises. After seeing the trailer and cast for this flick, I was really excited. Batman and Gladiator facing off? I'm there. Throw in one seriously badass Ben Foster and Peter Fonda and I really have no excuse not to go. With that said, 3:10 to Yuma well-exceeded my expectations. The performances are phenomenal. Crowe plays Ben Wade with such intensity and charm, he can just as quickly kill with his sidearm or his smile. He's an enigma of a character for the other players -- unpredictable and truly dangerous, God-fearing but fearless, seems to tell the truth through his lies (or makes you believe he might be lying or bluffing when he's telling the truth), and has a strong sense of right and wrong that isn't exactly in line with the law or the encroaching railroad builders. He doesn't give up his thieving ways, but also doesn't concern himself with the risk of capture and imprisonment. Crowe gives such a nuanced, collected performance that it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role. He well-embodies the idea of being both equally good and bad. Bale, on the other hand, gets to play a character on the other side of the spectrum from Bruce Wayne/Batman. Bale's character Dan is a frustrated rancher, drawn into the "prisoner transfer" posse by a casual yet frightening encounter with Wade early in the film. Bale plays down his usual leading man intensity and gives a realistic yet heroic performance that is both determined and sad. Even though Bale's character isn't physically capable, he is the only true foil to Crowe's Wade, someone who's morality and devotion to his land and his family inspires Wade to befriend him, or at least try to. A disbelieving, untrusting character, Dan is a man who, because of years of being ridiculed and dismissed, is finally finding an opportunity to show his true colors. An evil Ben Foster and Peter Fonda round out the cast, both turning in solid, albeit supporting roles. Ben Foster is viscious and determined, playing Wade's right hand man. He reminded me a lot of Michael Biehn's character in Tombstone (a rival just as good, perhaps even better than his leader?). Fonda plays a bounty hunter tasked with bringing Wade in. Gretchen Mol has a small role in the first half of the film which she handles well enough without pulling attention from the lead characters, and Logan Lerman plays Bale's son, William. He has an excellent subplot that, while conventional, is so well-executed I found myself intrigued to see the outcome regardless. The cinematography is familiar for a western and isn't intrusive. There are no trick shots, and there is no distracting shooting style. There are some great tracking shots following horses, but otherwise the movie is very simply captured. Music, again, was temp, but worked well with the tone (I think they used some Traffic in there). Sparse and quiet. The editing is spot on, which is another reason why I want to believe picture is locked. Pacing is even, action is well cut, and I really don't see any reason for Mangold to continue working on this cut. The performances are most likely what 3:10 to Yuma will get the most praise for. Still trying to place it in my annual top 10, and may wait until the movie hits theaters so I can see it again in its final form and position it then, but I'm pretty sure it's top 5 material. Mangold continues to surprise me with his success working with actors (I can't believe this is the same guy that gave us Identity -- UGH).