I didn't expect to get to the theater to see this remake, but when the opportunity arose, I grabbed it. It was great to see a western on the big screen again. The scenery's spectacular, and the acting's fine. Russell Crowe makes the bad man dangerously attractive, and Ben Foster is the definitive psycho sidekick. Christian Bale's their equal as the rancher who's determined to get Wade to the train on time.
But there are problems with the movie, mainly a bunch of lame, dumb stuff that I can't explain without revealing way too much. So if you haven't seen the movie, HEED THIS WARNING AND READ NO FARTHER.
Okay, for those of you who are still with me, here are some of the things I couldn't quite accept. Peter Fonda plays a bounty hunter who's shot by the bad guys. And let me tell you, there are a lot of bad guys. I don't know how many there are in Crowe's gang, but if they were part of the surge in Iraq, we'd win in a week. But I, as usual, digress. Fonda is shot. He's dragged for a long way on a couple of boards, then put on a horse and taken to town. He has a hole the size of a dinner plate in his stomach, and a veterinarian digs a bullet out of it. Ten minutes later, Fonda's on his feet, not even bleeding, and ready to ride out with the men guarding Crowe. Now that's one tough bounty hunter.
Bale, or Dan the Rancher, has a wooden leg. He clumps around a little in the early going, but at the end of the movie he's running like an Olympic sprinter. And not just on the ground. He's running on the roofs of buildings and jumping across the spaces between them like Jackie Chan.
Then there's the shortcut through Apache country. The guys taking Wade to the train have to take it, or so Dan says, so they do. The bad guys don't, and they get to town maybe an hour after Dan's bunch. Now that's what I call a lousy shortcut.
And the ending. Somebody's going to have to explain the ending to me. I don't get it at all. I just sat there thinking, "Huh?" I've seen a lot of movies, and I know there's only one way to get the bad guy to the station when you have evildoers all along the streets and on the rooftops. You put the little sawed-off up under his chin as tight as you can, and then you sidle outside where you inform the baddies that they can kill you, all right, but if they do, your last act will be to pull the trigger of that shotgun. Then you go on to the train, and you get on with the guy you're sending to Yuma prison. You don't shove him on board and then stand there like a doofus. But even if you do that, there's still no explaining the ending, not unless there was a lot more going on in those conversations between Bale and Crowe than I was getting.
I had fun at the movie. I enjoyed it. But I think they departed from Elmore Leonard's story by a few thousand miles. The story can't possibly have all that dumb stuff in it.