3:10 to Yuma


No one knows quite what to do with the Western these days. Maybe the genre has just gone out of fashion, maybe it became too riddled with clichés, maybe movie-goers love CGI too much to appreciate a nineteenth-century action flick, but I suspect the core problem is that the classic Western is a fairy tale: the violent, lawless wilderness breached by the noble forces of civilization. Those stark black-and-white morals—conveyed literally with the iconic black and white hats—seem archaic now, not necessarily because of the rigid ethical dichotomy but because this particular metaphor is obsolete. We’re uncomfortable demonizing the American Indian (as we should be), we tend to romanticize the untamed wilderness, and we know too much about how the West was won to celebrate that victory without some reservation.

The romance of the Western can be charming, yes, but it’s a musty charm, even in most contemporary examples of the genre, and 3:10 to Yuma is one of that majority. Despite the fresh acting, smooth direction, and Deadwood-esque profanities, it still feels very much like what it is: a remake of a fifty-year-old movie, a lovingly preserved museum piece.