I can't say I was very impressed with this remake: it seems to think that what the original needed was more running around and shooting, at the expense of the characters and in particular the relationship between the two main ones. The structure is still the same: Dan Evans (Bale) is given the job of escorting Ben Wade, the recently-arrested leader of the most notorious and feared gang of robbers in the territory, to catch the titular train. Dan is not the most obvious choice, but feels the need to prove his courage and bravery to his young son, and it gradually becomes clear that he actually has more intention of sticking to the task than the rest of the escort. This is specially so, as the remainder of Wade's gang, under the psychopathic Charlie Prince (Foster) [who has all the murderous intent of his boss and none of the charm] is intent on rescuing Wade, and certainly possess the means to do so. Can Evans carry out his mission and return home safely to his family?
The only thing I can say is an undeniable improvement, is the theme music, not being sung by Frankie Laine. Beyond that, there are hints of Wade and Evans developing a relationship that's more like Hannibal Lecter and Clarice Sterling, with Evans apparently bored with his life as an outlaw, and appreciating the mental challenge that Wade represents. But that never goes anywhere; Mangold seems to feels it wouldn't be enough to hold the audience's interest, so feels the need to jazz things up with exciting action scenes - unfortunately, they just aren't very exciting, and the audience doesn't have sufficient emotional investment in the participants for the impact to be anything higher. The performances aren't bad, with both Crowe and Bale capturing the essentials; however, my interest had all but evaporated by the time they reached their destination. From there, it's about as interesting as waiting for a train usually is.