In “3:10 to Yuma,” Russell Crowe plays murderous gunslinger of the West Ben Wade who kills without remorse. He’s a quick draw, ruthless, all rough and tumble, and not afraid to flirt with your wife. But man do you love the guy.
Wade is captured after robbing a stage coach, and a band of ranchers and law and order types escort the bad-but-oh-so-good guy on a tense journey to Contention where they intend to put him on the 3:10 train to Yuma–to prison where he’ll be hanged. What a pity.
The story centers on Wade but also on Dan, a struggling rancher who sees the money he’ll get to deliver Wade to Contention as a way to save his farm and feed him family. Dan may be the good guy, but by the end, you’re not sure who you’re rooting for. Sure, Wade has gunned down dozens of men and might stab the occasional guy who sings a really annoying ditty (like you haven’t been tempted), but his eyes and gun sparkle; what a charmer. Hanging him would be a regrettable waste of rope.