I hooked up a couple Westerns on the Amazon Unbox recently. The first was The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Much like its title, the film is over-long, but it features some great cinematography and some mighty fine performances -- especially from Casey Affleck and Sam Rockwell. I was amused at one point when the narration describing Jesse James mentioned that he had a condition that caused him to blink a lot... and there's Brad Pitt, doing his standard scruffy-faced, wide-eye, unblinking crazy face.... Um, yeah... OK, Brad. That said, Pitt is generally good, too, but it's a role that isn't much of a stretch for him. Anyway, the movie itself is good enough that I would certainly recommend it "if that's your sort of thing" -- by which I guess I'd mean low-action, semi-cerebral period pieces with pretty pictures.
Then last night I watched 3:10 to Yuma. More action to this one -- it's what you'd call a straight up Western. Christian Bale and Russell Crowe are both quite good, and it was a treat to see that guy from Firefly again. Best of all was a scene-stealing Ben Foster as Charlie Prince -- that character is a perfect Western villain. If you like people shooting at other people from horseback, this is your choice.
Unfortunately, I'm puzzled by the climax... (Spoilers ahoy!)
The actions of Crowe's character, Ben Wade, in the finale don't make sense to me at all. He decides to go along with Bale's Dan Evans to get on the train, but doesn't call off his boys, who are trying their damnedest to kill Evans. He actually behaves as if he is running from his own gang. Only as he gets on the train does he make any effort -- too late -- to keep Evans from being killed. He then proceeds to dispatch his entire gang in seeming revenge. WTF? Then he goes ahead and hops into the cage on the train to be taken to prison, but that's revealed to be something he does only to make Evans's son feel better (or something) because he calls his horse to follow along, implying an escape in the near future....
Why would he go along tot he train and not call off his gang? If he wasn't going to call off his boys, why would he shoot them all after they killed Evans? Why would he do all of this if he was just going to escape and start over? At least I'm not alone:
Without giving anything away, letâ€™s just say that in the interests of a socko finale Wade behaves in ways even Crowe canâ€™t make us swallow.
Like I said, I don't get it.
UPDATE: I should have checked Rod's fake script first:
CHRISTIAN BALE (clutching chest) I did it, son!
CHRISTIAN BALEâ€™S KID Did what? Managed to be so pathetic that Crowe took pity on you and volunteered to go to jail so that you could feel like a hero, despite being such a complete loser?
CHRISTIAN BALE Yeah, I totally did that. (dies)