I caught the sneak preview of the new Western starring Christian Bale and Russell Crowe last night. Bale’s character, Dan Evans, embarks on a journey to prove himself worthy of his family. Evans is a rancher down on his luck in the middle of a drought with one sick son, one resentful son and a wife who has lost faith in him. When Crowe’s character, the outlaw Ben Wade, is caught in town, Evans takes on the job of escorting him to the 3:10 train to Yuma prison, well aware that his gang will be looking to free him.
There will be some spoilers following here, so if you don’t want to know how the film continues don’t keep reading. I won’t be giving away the ending though.
The journey, or path of trials, Evans takes is one of self-reflection, as the very intelligent Wade begins asking him questions that he often doesn’t want to answer. It is also a journey of redemption as Evans feels deeply a failure to his family and the $200 payment for the job seems the answer to his problems. As trial after trial is overcome, Wade begins to respect the man who so singlemindedly wants to provide for his family. As Wade disposes of Tucker and McElroy for their inherent lack of character, he holds off on Evans. Despite his protestations to the contrary, there is a reason for that.
The story can be explained simply with a beginning and an end. The story starts when Evans tells his wife that he needs to do the dangerous job because of “the way my boys look at me and the way you don’t”. It ends with the look in his older son’s eyes at the end – a look of unadulterated pride. It’s the story of a simple man who becomes a hero to his family by staying true to his values and sticking to a commitment.