Dan Evans (Bale) is trying hard to scratch a living from the land whilst giving his sons a role model to be proud of. Unfortunately, his teenage son has a different world view and seems to be rejecting what he perceives as weakness in his father and is openly scornful of him. This generation gap provides a mirror to the theme of the ‘old’ West meeting the modernisation and change demanded by the encroaching railroad.
Evans and his sons encounter Ben Wade (Crowe) and his posse holding up the railroad’s payroll coach, which eventually leads to Evans agreeing to take Wade as prisoner to meet the train which will take him to Yuma prison. Evans wants the kudos of performing the task every bit as much as the money he stands to make.
Charlie Prince as Crowe’s sidekick, Ben Foster, does a nice line in psychotic, whilst Crowe and Bale really stand out amongst a generally very strong cast, playing dark, flawed, complex characters, satisfyingly three-dimensional and human.