Antoine Fuqua’s new film The Magnificent Seven starring Danzel Washington and Chris Pratt is a remake of the 1960 western classic of the same name starring Yule Brenner (which was also a retelling of Akira’s Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai), but this redux is a fresh take that manages to stick to its roots while also giving fans of the original something new to have a little fun with. The blueprint Fuqua uses is similar to the original with Denzel Washington playing a Bounty Hunter by the name of Chisolm who comes to the aid of a small town named Rose Creek whose residents are being violently evicted by a ruthless land baron named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Chisolm recruits a gang of less than savory types to protect the citizens and earn their fees as hired guns.
When making a film where you’re supposed to root for the bad guys who decide to go straight, you have to build a roster of interesting characters and The Magnificent Seven has no shortage of that. The stellar cast assembled by Sony are playing all new anti-heroes this time around with a little bit of the previous personas creeping in our new figures at play. Chris Pratt who is at the height of his career right now actually plays it straight this time around as the sly gambler Faraday who first hooks up with Chisolm portrayed by the always reliable Denzel Washington. Just like Denzel, Pratt is still full of charm and is a strong presence even when he’s not trying, but it’s the supporting cast who steals the spotlight at times.
Ethan Hawke plays the Cajun sharpshooter nicknamed Goodnight and is one of the many scene stealers assembled in The Magnificent Seven. Besides the clever wit brought to the table by Hawke, Goodnight also travels with his personal Asian assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee) who has a way with knives that will have the audience saying “Damn!”. Hawke and Lee aren’t the only two stealing the show as Vincent D’Onofrio makes his mark as mountain man and former indian killer Jack Horne. The bear of man is a unique character that you kind of want to give a big hug to even though you’re worried he could squeeze the life right out of you. The chemistry between these cast members and Denzel is what drives The Magnificent Seven into its bloody final showdown.
The cast and the action help make The Magnificent Seven an exhilarating good time, but the film does have a few problems including the main villain. After a stirring opening sequence involving Bogue and his forceful business plan for the town, Sarsgaard all but disappears until the final conflict. It’s a shame, because the actor really makes his despicable existence known yet we are left not knowing much about what makes this man so cutthroat. Also a few of the Seven get shortchanged due to time constraints and star power including Manuel Garcia-Rulfo’s Mexican Outlaw who we learn nothing about along with Comanche Warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). In Red Harvest’s case, Fuqua really missed out on bringing an unusual and exciting personality to life.
Fuqua also pushes the limits of his PG-13 rating with the The Magnificent Seven being one of the most violent films of 2016 as bullets, knives and even hatchets fly across screen. The movie has a good deal of unapologetic bloodshed, but that’s part of the endearment of The Magnificent Seven. We don’t want to see a band of misfits, thieves and killers walk through the Old West picking daisies. We want to see the mercenaries kick some dust-up with the people who are doing the good honest town folk wrong. The guns never seem to run out of bullets and no one is safe by the time the credits roll and that’s what makes The Magnificent Seven a good time at the movies even if it has a bit of cheesy Spaghetti Western feel at times.
Overall, I give The Magnificent Seven 3 out of 4 stars.
Read all T.M.’s reviews here–>Entertainment Now with T.M. Powell