The Desperate Passion of Ben Foster


Title: 3:10 to Yuma

By: James Mangold

I could barely recognize Ben Foster in 3:10 to Yuma, but I was blown away just the same by him as in his star making turn from Hostage. What makes Foster so special in Yuma?

Yuma contains two of Hollywood’s finest: Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. Bale is excellent, Crowe a little too relaxed to be cock-sure-dangerous. Both are unable to provide the powder-keg relationship that the movie demands.

Into this void steps Ben Foster. He plays Charlie Prince, sidekick to Crowe’s dangerous and celebrated outlaw Ben Wade. When Wade is captured, Prince is infuriated. He initiates an effort suffused with desperate passion to rescue his boss.

Playing Prince with a mildly effeminate gait, Foster quickly becomes the movie’s beating heart. What struck me in particular was that Foster was able to balance method acting with just plain good acting. He plays his character organically but isn’t above drawing attention with controlled staginess.

Gradually, Foster’s willingness to control a scene blend in with that of Prince’s. Is the character manipulating his circumstances in the movie or is it the actor playing a fine hand? Foster is so entertaining, the answer is immaterial.