Aussie Russell Crowe (Gladiator) and Brit Christian Bale (Batman Begins) drop their accents to portray Old West nemeses in this remake of a 1957 Western that starred Glenn Ford and Van Heflin. The commercial for the new film, which blared often during New Year's bowl games, touted it as "the best Western since Unforgiven," which isn't hard to imagine since, per my recollection, the Clint Eastwood signature piece was heavily overrated. And though Yuma may be a little over-hyped, it may be the best of the genre since 1992.
Disabled Civil War veteran-turned-Arizona-rancher Dan Evans (Bale) is deep in debt with a failing marriage and two disappointed sons. When notorious outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) is captured, Evans volunteers to help shuttle him across the state to meet a train bound for a prison in Yuma, for a sum of $200. Wade proves difficult to restrain, and his gang of thugs races to intercept the party before they reach the station.
Crowe plays Wade brilliantly as a cunning, smooth-talking killer, offering the perfect counter to Bale's highly unlikable hard-luck protagonist. Peter Fonda (Ghost Rider) costars as an aging marshal who's crossed paths with Wade before, while Ben Foster (Alpha Dog) plays Charlie Prince, the undersized but egocentric lieutenant of Wade's gang.
I've never seen the original so I can't tell you how it compares, but director James Mangold (Walk the Line) proves he's fully capable of resurrecting the Western. Perhaps you shouldn't buy into the Eastwood-esque hype about this title, but you'll still be in for a quality period action/drama.