Dan Evans (Bale) is an impoverished rancher and Civil War veteran. He owes money to Glen Hollander (Loftin) and when he fails to pay, two of Hollander's men set fire to his barn. The next morning, as Evans and his two sons look for their herd, they stumble upon outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) and his gang, who have taken advantage of Evans' cattle in order to block the road and ambush an armored stagecoach staffed by Pinkerton agents. As Wade's outfit loots the upended stage, Wade discovers Evans and his two sons watching from the hills. Determining that they pose no threat to him and his gang, Wade takes their horses and tells Evans that he will leave them tied up on the road to Bisbee. Wade's gang departs, and Evans rescues the lone surviving coach guard, Byron McElroy (Fonda), left alive but severely wounded by Wade.
Wade travels with his gang to Bisbee to celebrate at the local saloon and divide up the loot, then chooses to stay behind to enjoy the company of the barmaid while his gang departs. Evans arrives separately with McElroy and delivers him to Doc Potter (Tudyk), then tries in vain to negotiate with Hollander, who shoves him to the ground and departs. Enraged, Evans barges into the saloon looking for him, but instead encounters Wade emerging from an upstairs room. Evans coaxes a few dollars from Wade over the trouble the outlaw has caused him, delaying the outlaw long enough for the railroad men to ambush and arrest him.
The railroad's representative, Grayson Butterfield, enlists McElroy, Potter, Tucker (one of Hollander's men), and Evans, to deliver Wade to Contention, where Wade will be put on the 3:10 afternoon train to Yuma Territorial Prison. Evans requests a $200 fee to deliver Wade for transport, which Butterfield accepts. From Evans' ranch, McElroy arranges a decoy wagon to distract Wade's gang, now led by Charlie Prince, with the real prisoner transport departing later that night.
During the journey, both Tucker and McElroy provoke Wade, who in turn kills them. Wade attempts to escape, but is stopped when Evans' oldest son William (Lerman) appears, having followed the group all the way from the ranch. When the group is then attacked by Apaches, Wade kills the attackers and escapes to a Chinese laborer construction camp, where the foreman captures him. Evans, William, Potter and Butterfield arrive to regain custody of their prisoner, but the local posse is unwilling to give him up, and a fight ensues. The group manages to escape, but Potter is killed in the process. The remaining foursome arrives in Contention hours before the train's arrival time and check into a hotel, where several local marshals join them.
Wade's gang members ambush the decoy wagon, interrogating the lone survivor before killing him, then depart for Contention. Upon arriving, Prince offers a reward to any citizen who shoots any of Wade's captors, and numerous men volunteer, causing the town's marshals to desert immediately, only to be killed by Wade's men. Butterfield resigns as well, but agrees to keep William safe, as Evans is determined to complete the mission.
Evans escorts Wade out of the hotel, and the two make their way across town, evading continuous gunfire from the combined gang and townsmen. Wade surprises Evans and nearly strangles him, but relents when Evans reveals that delivering Wade to the train is not only to provide for his family, but to restore his own sense of honor, and give his sons something good to remember him for. Wade then admits he has already been to Yuma Prison and escaped twice, and agrees to board the train, allowing Evans' contract to be fulfilled.
Wade helps Evans evade his gang, and as he finally boards the train, congratulates Evans, but Prince appears from behind and shoots Evans despite Wade's order to stop. Wade steps off the train, and when Prince returns his gun belt, abruptly executes Prince along with the rest of his gang. William appears and draws his gun on Wade but does not kill him, instead turning to his dying father. Wade boards the train and politely surrenders his weapon. Evans dies as William tells him he accomplished his mission. As the train disappears around a bend, Wade whistles, and his faithful horse pricks up his ears and gallops after the train.Russell Crowe as Ben Wade, a ruthless leader of a band of outlaws
Christian Bale as Dan Evans, a one-legged veteran turned rancher
Logan Lerman as William Evans, Dan's eldest son, who dreams of being a cowboy
Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Ben's right-hand man, undyingly loyal to Ben
Peter Fonda as Byron McElroy, an elderly Pinkerton agent hired by the Railroad to hunt Wade
Dallas Roberts as Grayson Butterfield, an agent of the Southern Pacific Railroad
Alan Tudyk as Doc Potter
Lennie Loftin as Glen Hollander
Gretchen Mol as Alice Evans
Vinessa Shaw as Emmy
Kevin Durand as Tucker
Luce Rains as Marshal Weathers
Luke Wilson as Zeke
Marcus Sylvester as Slick
Carmilla Blakney as Rebbi
Rio Alexander as Campos
In June 2003, Columbia Pictures announced a negotiation with Mangold to helm a remake of the 1957 Western film 3:10 to Yuma, based on a script written by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas. After being apart from the project for several years, Mangold resumed his role as director in February 2006. Production was slated to begin in summer 2006. In the same month, Tom Cruise expressed an interest in starring as the villain in the film. Eric Bana also briefly sought a role in the film.
In summer 2006, Columbia placed the film in turnaround, and the project was acquired by Relativity Media. Crowe and Bale were cast as the main characters, and Relativity began seeking a distributor for the film. By September, Lions Gate Entertainment signed on to distribute the film. Later in the month, Peter Fonda, Gretchen Mol, Dallas Roberts, Ben Foster, and Vinessa Shaw were cast. Filming was slated to begin on October 23, 2006 in New Mexico. On the first day of filming, a rider and his horse were seriously injured in a scene when the horse ran directly into a camera-carrying vehicle instead of veering off as planned. The rider was hospitalized, and the horse had to be euthanized on the set. The animal's death prompted an investigation from the American Humane Association. By November, the AHA concluded its investigation, finding that the horse did not respond accordingly due to having received a dual training approach and the rider not being familiar with the mount. The organization recommended no charges against the producers. Principal photography took place in and around Santa Fe, Abiquiú, and Galisteo. The Bonanza Creek Ranch represented the film's town of Bisbee as a "kinder, gentler frontier town" while Galisteo was set up to be Contention (now a ghost town), a "much rougher, bawdier, kind of sin city". Another location was the scenic Diablo Canyon, and another was the Gilman Tunnels (35.734081°N 106.76475°W / 35.734081; -106.76475) along New Mexico State Road 485. Filming concluded on January 20, 2007.
After filming concluded, the owners of the Cerro Pelon Ranch petitioned to keep a $2 million expansion to the movie set on their property, which was supposed to be dismantled within 90 days. The set of 3:10 to Yuma made up 75% of the overall sets on the ranch. In April 2007, the request was met by the county's development review committee to keep the expansion, which would potentially generate revenue in the future.
3:10 to Yuma was originally slated for an October 5, 2007 release, but Lionsgate moved the film's release a month earlier to September 7, 2007 to beat competing Western films The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and No Country for Old Men. As a result of the move, the studio was not able to use the Toronto International Film Festival as a platform for the film's release, but it was released before a cluster of films similarly vying for awards. According to Lionsgate president Tom Ortenberg, "In what is shaping up to be a very impressive and crowded field of upscale commercial motion pictures this fall, we wanted to be one of the first ones out, so that everything else will be measured against us." The earlier theatrical run positioned it for a prominent high-definition Blu-ray Disc and DVD release in the first week of January, during awards seasons. Lionsgate similarly planned this strategy for Crash (2004), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture that year.
In Germany, the film was released by Columbia Pictures, which had produced the 1957 original.
3:10 to Yuma debuted in the United States and Canada on September 7, 2007, in 2,652 theaters. In its opening weekend, the film grossed $14,035,033 and ranked #1 at the U.S. and Canadian box office. 3:10 to Yuma grossed an estimated $53,606,916 in the United States and $16,409,304 in other territories for a worldwide total of $70,016,220.
3:10 to Yuma received positive reviews from critics. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 89%, based on 215 reviews, with an average rating of 7.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "The remake of this classic Western improves on the original, thanks to fiery performances from Russell Crowe and Christian Bale as well as sharp direction from James Mangold." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 76 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Andrew Sarris of The New York Observer said "There is more greed-driven corruption in the remake than there was in the original" and that the film is less a remake "than a resurrection of both the film and its now unfashionable genre." Sarris said Fonda and Foster "are especially memorable" and said "the performances of Mr. Crowe and Mr. Bale alone are worth the price of admission." The New Yorker film critic David Denby wrote that the film "is faster, more cynical, and more brutal" than the 1957 film. Denby wrote that Fonda "gives an amazingly fierce performance" and that Crowe "gives a fascinating, self-amused performance", saying "Crowe is an acting genius." Denby said "this is by far [director James Mangold's] most sustained and evocative work." Denby wrote that "much of this Western is tense and intricately wrought." Ty Burr of The Boston Globe called the film "lean, almost absurdly satisfying." Burr wrote that Crowe and Bale "are among the best, most intuitively creative we have, and whatever transpires offscreen in Crowe’s case, onscreen they only serve their characters. Neither man showboats here, and it’s a thrill to watch them work." Burr said that the character of Ben Wade is "a snake and a snake charmer in one irresistible package" and said Foster as Charlie Prince is "mesmerizing." Burr said "Bale and Crowe never once misstep" and that Mangold "steers clear of Deadwood revisionism." Burr, however, wrote that the ending "makes little to no sense in a post-Clint Eastwood universe."
Bruce Westbrook of the Houston Chronicle gave the film 3½ stars and called it "the best Western since Unforgiven", calling it "both cathartic and intelligent." He wrote that the film "draws clear inspiration from the lonely heroics of High Noon" and said "While a wildly eventful action-adventure and outlaw shoot-'em-up, it's also a vibrant story of heroism, villainy and hard-earned redemption." Westbrook said that Crowe and Bale are "at the top of their game" and "Crowe is reliably charismatic as a man who's less craven and bloodthirsty than wise, resourceful and expedient." Shawn Levy of The Oregonian gave the film a "B+" and said the film is "grounded in something like the credible realism of a John Ford Western but which also can appease the thirsts for blood, wit and tension harbored by fans of Quentin Tarantino." Levy wrote "The original film spends much time on conversation between Wade and Evans and focuses more on Evans' wife, whereas the new film has more action sequences and is infused subtly with themes that echo vexing contemporary political and moral issues." Levy said "Christian Bale gives us another of his wounded, desperate, stubborn men" and "Russell Crowe fills a role originated by Glenn Ford with a big dose of the mocking charisma, cool discernment and casual cruelty of Robert Mitchum." Levy said the climax "sews up the narrative too quickly", but called the film "a fine and sturdy picture."
Christian Science Monitor critic Peter Rainer gave the film a "B+" and wrote "what Alfred Hitchcock once said about thrillers also applies to Westerns: The stronger the bad guy, the better the film. By that measure, 3:10 to Yuma is excellent." Comparing the film to the 1957 film, Rainer wrote that the film "is larger in scope than its predecessor, and significantly altered in its ending, but essentially it's the same old morality play." Rainer said the "drippy father-son stuff is the least successful aspect of the movie." Rainer also wrote "Bale acts as if he's still playing the POW survivalist from Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn" and said "his hyperrealistic performance is a drag next to Crowe's dapper prince of darkness." Rainer said Crowe's "underplaying here is in many ways as hammy as if he were overplaying, and that's just fine." Richard Schickel of TIME magazine said "when a movie is as entertaining as this one, you begin to think this formerly beloved genre is due for a revival." Schickel said the 1957 film "was, in my opinion, not as good as a lot of people thought" and said Crowe "never settles for predictability when he's on screen and never lets us settle into complacency as we watch him." Schickel wrote that director Mangold "never loses his crispness or his narrative efficiency." Schickel said the comparisons to Unforgiven "are not entirely apt", saying that "Mangold's offering lacks the blackness and absurdity" of that film. He wrote, "It is more in the vein of Anthony Mann's westerns of the 1950s — trim, efficiently paced, full of briskly stated conflicts that edge up to the dark side, but never fully embrace it."
The film received two Academy Award nominations for the 80th Academy Awards. Marco Beltrami was nominated for Best Original Score, and Paul Massey, David Giammarco, and Jim Stuebe were nominated for Best Sound Mixing. The film also received a nomination for Best Cast at the 14th Screen Actors Guild Awards.