When it was announced that a remake of the classic 1960 Western The Magnificent Seven was in the works, many movie lovers had the standard reaction. Namely, they didn't want it to happen. For a lot of people, Hollywood's seemingly incessant need to remake and reboot older films for new audiences is one of the biggest issues with the film industry today.
However, while it is true that there have been many bad remakes that were little more than cash-grabs by the movies studios, there have also been a lot of good ones over the years. And, the 'original' 1960 movie starring Steve McQueen was actually a remake itself! It was based on the classic 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai, directed by the revered Akira Kurosawa. If you then consider the creative pedigree behind this modern version, it suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
This new version is directed by the versatile Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw) and stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke. It is an absolute blast, from start to finish. Fuqua, a self-confessed fan of the Western genre, is clearly having a ball on this project. His enthusiasm but also reverence for the source material shines through. The film is fun and action-packed, but also tense and hard-hitting when it needs to be.
Review: The Magnificent Seven
Teaming with Fuqua for the third time (after Training Day and The Equalizer), Washington is his usual charismatic self. The man is a movie star of the highest caliber, and his magnetism provides a great center for the film. His Sam Chisolm is a Bounty Hunter tasked with assembling a group of outlaws to protect the people of the small mining town Rose Creek from the evil industrialist Bartholomew Bogue. Washington portrays Chisolm's staunch desire to do the right thing well. But he also hints at a tragic backstory for the character. Peter Sarsgaard is over the top in (mostly) the right way as Bogue, all serpentine twitches and silver-tongued menace.
The movie's plot is fairly simple, it has to be said, just like the original movies. But it doesn't really matter when the cast and direction is this good. Chris Pratt displays his usual cocky charm, and it works. Vincent D'Onofrio (Kingpin from Netflix' Daredevil TV show), Ethan Hawke and Byung-Hun Lee bring their own quirks and idiosyncrasies to their characters. They're all highly watchable. Even the more unknown actors Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier turn out to be great finds. They both bring something unique to their roles of the Mexican gunslinger and Comanche warrior respectively. Haley Bennett, as the sole female of note and the movie's moral center, has a tough task but accomplishes it with aplomb. She is emotionally vulnerable while displaying a grit and determination that makes her character extremely interesting.
Big Western Ending
The movie is old school in how it structures its story. We're introduced to each member of the group in the first act. We see them bonding and bickering as they become a true group in the second act. By the time the explosive third act roles around, we care about these people and don't want to see them killed by Bogue's army.
The final battle, therefore, is amazing. Fuqua directs the action with a vicious intensity, and each character gets their own moments to shine. In fact, the action and violence is so intense that it's incredible the movie managed to get a PG-13 rating. While, yes, there is very little blood, the sheer number of bodies shown being shot, stabbed and blown up throughout the movie is kind of staggering. The movie pushes the boundaries of its rating as much as possible, and is all the better for it.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven is a great popcorn movie, and we mean that in an entirely positive way. For just over two hours, audience's should have a blast stuffing popcorn and candy in their faces. This is a top notch adventure unfolding on the screen in front of them. And sometimes that's just what you need from a cinematic experience.
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Rating - 8/10
It is an absolute blast, from start to finish. Fuqua, a self-confessed fan of the Western genre, is clearly having a ball on this project.