Posse Ineffective: Crowe and Bale play to stereotype in a remake of Yuma.

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The Old West is meaner, bloodier, and more profane in this R-rated remake of Delmer Daves’ 1957 Western, yet the setting is fundamentally unchanged. Director James Mangold—whose résumé includes Walk the Line, Cop Land, and Girl, Interrupted—is a suitable heir to the little-remembered Daves. Both are more concerned with action and style than insight or plausibility, though the updated script (from a story by Elmore Leonard) adds about a half hour of complications and tugs the ending in a darker direction. Struggling rancher Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and his two sons witness a stagecoach robbery in a sequence where firepower, body count, and hand-held-camera movements suggest 1970s Vietnam more than 1870s Arizona. Charismatic gang leader Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) lets Dan and his boys go, but they meet again after Ben dallies too long with a sexy bartender in a nearby town. He’s arrested by two railroad security agents (Peter Fonda and Dallas Roberts), who then assemble a posse to escort him to the train to Yuma, and federal prison. Dan, who sacrificed part of his leg defending D.C. in the Civil War, has lost the respect of his wife (Gretchen Mol) and older son and is about to forfeit his ranch to a conniving lender. So he accepts an offer of $200 to join the posse. It’s not a smooth escort. The posse is being stalked by Ben’s gang, led by sociopathic Charlie Prince (Ben Foster), and also tangles with renegade Apaches and competing railroad agents. Eventually, Ben and Dan find themselves holed up together in a hotel room and the conflict briefly turns psychological. But the guns come out again for the big finale, which ends up being an absurd attempt to balance the two men’s respective sense of honor. Manly to a fault and paced by Marco Beltrami’s Morricone-goes-metal score, 3:10 to Yuma is primarily an action picture. It does develop Ben’s and Dan’s characters, but most of that work is done in casting: Crowe plays his usual lovable rogue and Bale his customary obsessive martyr. The context of the Western is novel for them, but their predictable roles underscore the fact that the movie offers nothing new.