Determined Homesteader Dan Evans is going to lose his farm. A bad drought worsened by his creditor redirecting the river that ran through his farm makes it nigh impossible to pay his dues, let alone afford his ill son's medication. His luck is about to change though, but for better or worse is hard to tell. Not far away, stage coach robber Ben Wade is pulling off another successful heist against a bank coach. Dan and his sons are witness to it, and manage to walk away alive and with Wade generously compensating the loss of some cattle during the heist. Dan and his sons rescue one of the pinkertons (law men) that survived and take him to town.Wade goes to the nearby town to rest before regrouping and setting off again, but the local sheriff sets an ambush and they capture him. This was the easy part however. Since the sheriff needs volunteers to escort Wade to Yuma for a trial, Dan volunteers in order to get the money to pay for his farm. The way to Yuma will be filled with dangers, not just from Wade's gang, led by deadly Dragon Charlie Prince, but also Indians, old enemies of Wade who are out to kill him, and perhaps most dangerously, Magnificent Bastard Wade himself.This film is a remake of a 1957 film starring Glenn Ford and Van Heflin, which was in turn a film adaptation of a short story of the same name by Elmore Leonard (his first ever published work, in fact). The 2007 film can be considered a Reconstruction of soapy Westerns, and along with Appaloosa depict realistic life in the old west. Has perhaps one of the best musical scores of the year 2007.For those curious, the original film shares many tropes in common with the remake. However, due to the remake being an Adaptation Expansion instead of a straight-up remake, there are few tropes the original has that the remake does not (unless noted).
Anyone who's seen Serenity is going to find the death of Alan Tudyk's character awfully reminiscent of Wash's.
Viewers of Lost may be reminded by Tucker's demise of evil mercenary Martin Keamy's death.
Adaptation Expansion: Textbook example, the remake reuses a lot of dialogue with many scenes being virtually identical, so much in fact that the writer of the original has a co-writer credit even though he died a long time ago. But the remake also adds a lot of content expanding on several characters, adding more and fleshing out the journey. The ending's different, though.
Ambiguously Gay: Charlie "Princess." Definitely not helped by his shrill voice, immaculate dress sense, the way he struts and cat walks, the fact that he wears eye liner, and his incredibly obvious crush on his boss.
Chekhov's Gun: Wade's gun is said to be cursed to anyone who touches it except him. Tucker takes it from him, and is killed by Wade. The railroad posse take it later, and are in turn killed by Charlie Prince. At the climax scene after Dan's death, Ben's gang pass the gun to him, but only after every single one of them has touched it. Remember the curse?
Cardboard Prison: After volunteering to help Dan do everything possible to get him on the train that will take him to Yuma prison, Ben Wade makes a little confession: he's already escaped from Yuma. Twice.
Death Glare: Ben Wade gives several in the movie. The most impressive one is probably the one given to his whole gang after Charlie shoots Dan. The second Charlie sees the look he starts reaching for his guns. It doesn't do him any good.
Friendly Enemy: Towards the end Wade all but fights at Dan's side, out of respect and admiration. Of course, he had escaped Yuma prison several times already.
Gatling Good: The stage coach had one, not that it stopped Wade's gang.
Gay Cowboy: Charlie to Wade, the subtext practically screamingAmbiguously Gay. Charlie is even once insulted as "Charlie Princess". Given that he's a criminal, he also counts as a Gayngster.
Green Eyes: Ben Wade is attracted to girls with green eyes. Interestingly, Alice, Evan's wife, has green eyes, making some viewers speculate that Alice was Velvet, a girl from San Francisco whom Wade had an affair with. Other viewers (or the same ones) even went as far as suggesting that William, Dan Evan's son, could be indeed Ben Wade's son. It should be noted that this is unintentional from the filmmakers and that it does not appear in the original short story.
Handicapped Badass: It's easy to forget Dan does all his stunts while wearing a prosthetic leg.
Handy Cuffs: You'd think after the first time Wade killed a member of the party with his hands cuffed in front of him, someone would cuff them behind his back.
Heel Face Turn: After coming to understand why Dan is willing to die to get him on the train to Yuma, Ben Wade actually helps him to the train station, leading him through a hail of gunfire from the gunmen trying to rescue the outlaw. All so that the railroad will make good on their promise to save Dan's farm, but more importantly Dan's son can see what his father is made of. At one point Ben pulls Dan to his feet after falling so they can keep going.
Holy Hitman: Ben Wade seems to either not believe in God or dislike Him, but he can exchange Bible quotes with the best of them. This is due to his Parental Abandonment: Wade's mother gave a young Wade a Bible, sat him down, and told him she was going off to get train tickets to take them out of town and to keep reading until she got back. Three days later, he had finished from cover to back, and she never came back.
Jerkass: One of the members of the posse burned down Dan' barn at the behest of his creditor and goes out of his way to be an asshole to Ben Wade. McElroy also qualifies due to his nastiness towards other characters, his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of a shackled Ben Wade, and his Offstage Villainy, which includes massacring an Indian village.
YMMV on McElroy. He's gruff, no doubt, but the beating of Ben comes directly after Ben had just finished stabbing Tucker to death, and the Indian village was a staging point for raids on the railroad.
Kill 'em All: The entire group trying to get Wade onto the train (except Dan's son and Butterfield), and the entirety of Ben's posse.
Morality Pet: Zig-zagged. William tries to invoke this, telling Wade he isn't all bad. Wade casually tells William that he "wouldn't last five minutes leading an outfit like that if [he] wasn't as rotten as hell." He then kills every member in his posse when they kill Dan and gets on the train willingly, with the knowledge that he can escape from Yuma, having done so twice before. He's a complex guy.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Wade manages to kill one member of the posse while everyone is asleep, Byron McElroy responds by beating the handcuffed Wade (who is also lying down on the ground) over and over with the butt of his rifle. This goes on even when the other members of the posse tell him to stop. Eventually, he has to be physically restrained from continuing the beating.
Politically Incorrect Villain: One of the members of the main posse massacred Apache in the past, and he makes a (literally) fatal mistake when he insults Ben Wade's mother. There's also the corrupt leader of the construction camp who considers his Chinese Laborers to be animals and somehow comes across as worse than Ben and his gang.