A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Western stars Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, both of whom appeal to teens. A remake of the 1957 Glenn Ford film, the new version has upped the ante with plenty of shoot-outs and bloodshed for 21st-century audiences. But the bloody scenes are counterbalanced by a lot of conversation between the outlaw and his captors. One of the characters is a slightly rebellious teenager who, for the most part, is ashamed of his father. There's one brief love scene, one bar scene, and some language ("f--k" used a couple of times, plus "s--t," "bastard," and more).
What's the story?
After his gang holds up a railroad company's money coach, Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) is captured and told he's being taken to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma prison. But the five-man crew escorting Wade to the train knows that the outlaw's equal-opportunity posse -- which includes a Mexican sharpshooter, an Apache, and cold-blooded second in command Charlie Prince (Ben Foster) -- is sure to follow. If Wade's loyal killers get to him before the train, they'll shoot down anyone who stands in their way. As crippled, put-upon rancher Dan, who's part of the escort crew, Christian Bale is gaunt and hollow-faced. Despite his Civil War-injured leg, he agrees to be part of the crew for the price of $200. He needs the money to salvage his dying farm, mend his broken marriage, and -- for once -- earn some respect from his teenage son (Logan Lerman). The more Wade talks to Dan, the more the odd couple strikes up a strange camaraderie.
Is it any good?
The supporting players -- from a barely recognizable Peter Fonda as the haggard bounty hunter leading the way to the train station to Foster's stylized take on a wild-eyed murderer -- are remarkable. Even 15-year-old Lerman holds his own with Bale and Crowe. Like all Westerns, this is a testosterone-driven film, but the psychological tug-of-war between the two leads provides an emotional counterpoint to all the bloodshed.
Director James Mangold (Walk the Line) thrives on characters who are neither purely sinner nor saint, and in this remake of the original 1957 Glenn Ford film, he's revitalized a dying genre with the idea that even bad men in black hats can redeem themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about remakes. Why does Hollywood like to remake (or "re-imagine") old films? Can you think of any remakes that ended up being better than the original? Families can also discuss the two main characters. Is Wade completely rotten? What makes him a "bad guy"?
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