Director James Mangold has fashioned a fantastic new version of the classic western 3:10 TO YUMA with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe.

I know that Clint Eastwood really does have the ownership of classic cowboy spectacles but 3:10 TO YUMA was made anew with great vision and execution in 2007 by director James Mangold. Following on from his success with the Oscar-winning Johnny Cash biopic Walk The Line, he created a really stylish and visceral western. Seeing it again recently on DVD, I was reminded of how incredibly striking it is, with scene after scene of understated power.

Russell Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma

Russell Crowe’s outlaw Ben Wade forms an uneasy partnership with Christian Bale’s rancher Dan Evans

First and foremost, you have a pair of brilliant leading performances to drive the story along. As ostensibly the villain and the hero, there’s the Oscar-winning Russell Crowe as Ben Wade, the killer with a possible conscience, and Christian Bale as Dan Evans, the honest but troubled rancher. Dan has reluctantly ended up as part of the group of men escorting the captured Wade to justice so he can collect the reward money and save his failing farm. They must head to the aptly named town of Contention and put Wade on the train arriving at that designated time. But of course, it’s far from an easy journey as members of Wade’s gang try ant every turn to free their boss.

In addition to the charismatic leads, there’s also a great collection of performances in all the supporting roles, including the legendary Peter Fonda, Alan Tudyk, Dallas Roberts, Gretchen Mol as Dan’s wife and the talented young Logan Lerman as Dan’s son William, whose determination to grow up and be a man results in a painful rite of passage as he accompanies his father on this perilous ride.

And last, but by no means least, there’s the amazing Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Wade’s devoted but psychopathic sidekick. I’ve admired Foster ever since his extraordinary performance as the sociopath Mars Krupcheck in the 2005 film Hostage and he makes just as startling an impression in this.

Mangold brings a “true grit” to the proceedings here and it all ends in a heart-stopping finale at the train station that really doesn’t turn out how you think it will. I do think that makes this version of 3:10 TO YUMA one for the history books.

Check it out.