The Magnificent Seven, 2016.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua.
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Haley Bennett, Byung-Hun Lee, Vincent D’Onofrio, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Peter Sarsgaard.
Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
Antoine Fuqua directs an all-star cast in his remake of The Magnificent Seven, a film that successfully calls back to classic Westerns and its namesake while delivering some good performances and entertaining action pieces.
The plot is pretty basic and straightforward, as are many films in the Western genre; corrupt bad guys terrorize a town and the townsfolk hire a group of cowboy mercenaries to defend them. Denzel Washington stars as the group’s leader Sam Chisolm, one of the only ones in the group who can be called a straight up good guy. Washington’s performance is one of the strongest in the film as he retains a stoic presence while injecting some sporadic humour into Chisolm’s character. One of the best indicators of this is the subtle way Washington uses his body language to great effect, going from relaxed one second to tense and ready to fight the next.
One might have also expected Chris Pratt to be the comic relief throughout the film, and for the most part he is the source of the film’s humour, but Pratt also treats his role much more seriously. There is a joyful atmosphere to his character as he shares his excitement in dealing with explosives, but in the film’s quieter moments his comedic persona subsides to allow Faraday to get some development and tension to build. When the firefights do start, though, its clear Pratt is having fun with the role as if he’s living out a boyhood dream.
The rest of the cast do fine as well with each one getting their own moments to explore. Ethan Hawke’s Goodnight may get the most development of all the characters as a former sharpshooter struggling with shellshock, making him one of the most memorable characters of the film. Byung-Hun Lee gets some of the more exciting action pieces, particularly when it comes to hand-to-hand while Vincent D’Onofrio starts off somewhat irritating due to the voice he uses throughout the film. His character also seems to have an interesting backstory, but its never fully explored.
Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier round out the Seven, but their characters tend to get pushed to the sidelines when it comes to development. Garcia-Rulfo has an interesting dynamic with Pratt that grows throughout the story, but he doesn’t get developed much beyond that. Sensmeirer is also somewhat underused in the character department, which is a shame since his character has a lot of potential. However, he does get some stellar action moments too.
Outside the Seven, Haley Bennett gives a strong performance as the widow who hires the group and gets her fair share of the action while Peter Sarsgaard kind of hams it up as the main villain. He just needed to trade in his goatee to a twirly moustache to fully fit the bill as a Western antagonist, but he still does well with what he’s given.
The Magnificent Seven moves along at a good pace. There won’t be many moments people find dull and the final climax is an entertaining and sometimes brutal one, displaying some very good choreography and stuntwork that definitely lives up to the Western genre. The music also helps throughout the film, but particularly in the climax, as composers James Horner and Simon Franglen retain that classic Western sound. It should be noted that Horner died before production really began, but had already begun working on the music, leaving his friend Franglen to complete it. It is to Franglen’s credit that he simultaneously paid tribute to the Western and Horner’s own sound.
While it’s not a very deep film by any means, The Magnificent Seven is a fun time at the movies. While some of the characters could have done a bit more, each member of the cast gave good performances and Antoine Fuqua directed a competent throwback to Westerns of old, honouring the legacy of the original film.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★