This is a remake of the 1957 western and based on the short story with the same title by Elmore Leonard. Just like the 1957 film brings two great actors together, Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, this new saga brings the critically acclaimed Russell Crowe and the gifted Christian Bale to a classic shoot-em' up.
The 1957 plot was about an outlaw named Ben Wade (Ford) who is captured in a small town for robbing the Butterfield stagecoach and killing its driver. While the humble and down on his luck small-time rancher Dan Evans (Heflin) who witnessed the robbery was offered $200 to take Wade in secret to the nearest town with a railroad station to await the train to Yuma and send him off to stand trial.
This remake is primarily the same as the original but places importance on the post Civil War issues as a backstory. Carpetbaggers, bank foreclosures and rich cattle barons of the Arizona territory set the tone for the urgency in Dan Evans (Bale) assignment in escorting the deparado Ben Wade (Crowe). Bale contributes a new image to this character as a father who needs to prove himself to his sons and to find pride in his lackless years as a union soldier which rendered him disabled. He never fails to deliver a fine performance. Meanwhile, the charismatic Crowe added spirit and energy to the notorious Ben Wade. Even though Wade is a homicidal madman, you can't help but to like him as he spits out passages from The Bible before he blows his victims away. I guess you can call him "the man you love to hate". He seems to be a brilliant strategist and a natural leader.
Peter Fonda looks great on the big screen performing in this western. He's a natural for this genre. Fonda portrays a Pinkerton agent named Byron McElroy who has been hunting Wade and gets shot by him during his stagecoach robbery. This little addition to the script added more excitement than the original 1957 film that was basically a methodic plot and had only one dimension. You can be sure this new film has loads of action with the help of Wade's right-hand man Charlie Prince (Ben Foster). Foster cleverly portrays a psychopath who is second in command in the Wade gang and is determined to stop Evans from delivering his boss to the train.