Title: The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
Synopsis: With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
In a world that seems to be overrun by remakes, reboots, and sequels, The Magnificent Seven is just another example of how limited originality in Hollywood is becoming. Especially with the big budget films, it seems like every film has either already been a film at some point, is being adapted from a popular series of novels, or is just an unnecessary sequel to give a film a popular brand and is an easy cash-grab. I think this is poisoning the movie business and seems to only be getting worse as time passes by. I am not normally one who will go out of my way to view a remake like this, especially knowing that the previous Magnificent Seven film was also a remake of the Akira Kurosawa masterpiece Seven Samurai. However, knowing the creators behind it and the intriguing cast, I thought I would give it a shot and see how it compared to previous remakes and sequels I have seen over the past few years.
Let me start with the positives with this film. This film is directed by Antoine Fuqua who is an acclaimed director and has some fantastic films under his belt. Just recently, Southpaw proved to be a massive success, andTraining Day is one of my favorite films of all time. What I can say about the direction of this film is it is beautifully shot, using real life “western scenery” to bring out a vibe that will not only attract the audience, but immerse them into the setting a long with the characters. Fuqua wasn’t trying to create a film that was better than the previous The Magnificent Seven, but just modernize the story which is a timeless story that can appeal to all generations. He wasn’t going for gold, but just seemed to be focused on creating an entertaining film with great characters and fantastic action sequences. The action and fight scenes in this film are shot extremely well. There is hardly any shaky-cam, which is really impressive, because this is a PG-13 film. A lot of times with PG-13 films, the director will purposely shake the camera to distract the viewer from seeing what is really going on and censor the violence. With this film, I can say that most of the violence is in your face, and is very affective but not too gory. This is like a non-bloody Django Unchained. All the stunt work and action sequences were very affective and really surprised me.
The most intriguing thing about this movie, and what the film is all about, is the actors represented in this film. The seven cast members who portrayed these magnificent seven were all very entertaining and memorable. Now, of course characters like the ones Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt portrayed were more memorable than some of the other lesser-known actors’ portrayals, but every member of the magnificent seven had their moment to shine. They all had something that made them unique and a threat, and each actor was very convincing in their role. This was by far the best thing about the film, and is what had to work or the film would have been a massive failure. I believe that because of this alone, this film is worth watching, despite some of the flaws that I will get to in a little bit.
Denzel Washington is certainly one of the greatest actors of our time. I mentioned in my previous review of Sully how fantastic Tom Hanks is as an actor. He seems to give a phenomenal performance in every film he is in, and is so likable that you instantly root for the guy. I can say the exact same thing about Mr. Washington, and he was the perfect actor to play this role. His character is someone who is not perfect, but is still looked up to, and is the saving grace for the small town in turmoil. Denzel Washington always seems very confident in his roles. You can tell that he really prepared and just lights up the screen whenever he is shown. Also, the introduction of his character is so fantastic, and was one of the highlights for me of the entire film. It was great seeing Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke back together again. The last time they were on-screen together was Training Day, and it was very cool to see both actors working together once again. In this film, they are old acquaintances, and the way the two characters first come on-screen together is very reminiscent of how the two actors would have first sawn each other on set while making the film. Ethan Hawke really went all out for this film, and did a great job of giving emotional depth to his character. Chris Pratt was just being Chris Pratt, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but was probably one of the weaker performances in the film. Peter Sarsgaard played the ruthless, cruel villain, and did a tremendous job transforming for the role and seemed very convincing as that type of character. The last actor I would like to mention is Vincent D’Onofrio who was easily one of the stand-outs for me as Jack Horne. D’Onofrio really went all out for this character by changing his appearance and voice for the role. He was hilarious and stole a lot of scenes he was in, even though his screen time was much less than some of the other actors.
The Magnificent Seven has a pretty standard straight-forward plot. It doesn’t really do anything to add or enhance to the original story and will not blow you away with unexpected plot turns. It is a simple story and is pretty predictable. It’s hard for me to think that fans of the previous film will find this better than the original just because it struggles to add anything new to the story. This film really just seemed to have been made for the basic point of attracting a younger audience in re-telling a story for a new generation. This film certainly lacks in originality and uses a lot of western clichés that will not bide well with hard-core fans of old-school westerns or professional film critics. However, I believe a general audience will find this to be very entertaining, just because of the star-studded cast and great action sequences.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven is another film in a long list of Hollywood remakes that stands out because of its impressive action sequences and A-list lead actors. The cast certainly is great and all of the members of the magnificent seven all had their moments to shine and were all introduced very well (this is something I believe Suicide Squad struggled with). Denzel Washington was fantastic as always, commanding the screen and showing a great deal of confidence in his role. However even though it shines, because its entertaining characters, the movie as a whole doesn’t stand out from a lot of the other films I have reviewed this year. The story is pretty bland and a lot of the characters are not fleshed out. I don’t necessarily think this is a must see. It doesn’t bring anything new to the genre, and isn’t bold or daring. But fans of Denzel Washington or Chris Pratt might find this really entertaining, and there are certainly a lot of humor and intrigue that would please a general audience. Just know that this is not a great western on its own, but just an entertaining, popcorn flick with mindless fun that could please people of all ages.