The Magnificent Seven Review

“The Magnificent Seven” stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung hun-Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Luke Grimes and Peter Sarsgaard.  “The Magnificent Seven” is the remake of the original 1960’s classic western, this time directed by the amazing Antoine Fuqua who updates the classic tale with more grit, action and explosive western violence.  Seven gunman in the American old west, band together to help a poor village fight off a band of savage thieves and mining pioneers.  “The Magnificent Seven” is the classic western archetype that started with Japanese director Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece “Seven Samurai.”  And while this new version of the tale is more like the 1960’s western, there are a number of homages to the Japanese samurai epic.

“The Magnificent Seven” was a film that I was really looking forward to.  I am a huge fan of “Seven Samurai,” and enjoyed the original Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner classic of the same name.  Now after seeing this film, this is one of my favorites so far this year.  “The Magnificent Seven” is loads of fun and has so much action violence it makes Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” look unforgivable.  Antoine Fuqua delivers on every thrill and every action set piece that the trailer promises and more.  This is a well crafted, well intentioned remake that is worthy of the classics that came before it.  The classic western tropes are packed in this movie, making it feel like the triumphant western that it sets out to be.  Is it predictable?  Sure.  But it is so much fun and I had a blast watching it.

So what worked?  The cast was fantastic.  Denzel Washington was phenomenal as always and his team-ups with director Fuqua are always worth something of a treat.  I loved “Training Day,” and I loved “The Equalizer,” but I think “The Magnificent Seven” is their best work to date.  You can tell that both actor and director had such a blast working together on this picture.  Chris Pratt plays a gunslinger card player named Faraday, who is very reminiscent of Val Kilmer’s character Doc Holliday in “Tombstone.”  Chris Pratt, well he plays Chris Pratt and there’s nothing wrong with it.  He fit in great.  And Ethan Hawke, once again united with Denzel was great to see.  I would have liked to have known more about Hawke’s character because he had some serious demons and it might have been beneficial to see some of those things.  And Vincent D’Onofrio was truly a standout character playing a wilderness man named Jack Horne.  The cast was truly fantastic and they all had really great chemistry together.  But the true star of the film is Fuqua.  He really understands the western genre and played a lot with the classical elements that we come to expect from this genre.  The cinematography was excellent, with great overhead shots and panoramic views of horses and cowboys and bandits and Indians.  This was a gorgeous looking movie and it gave me chills at certain points.  And the score, done wonderfully by James Horner fit the tone of the film extremely well.  Horner tragically died in a plane crash last year and “The Magnificent Seven” was his last hooray and his finale farewell to film and it went out like a bang of dynamite.

There were some moments early on in the movie that felt a little slow.  When Denzel’s character Sam Chisolm is assembling the team, certain moments dragged on a little too long.  And for the most part, there wasn’t a whole lot of backstory or character development with most of the players.  I would have liked to have seen more from this angle, just so I could get a little more emotionally involved with each character.  That was one thing “Seven Samurai” did exceptionally well.  We really cared about the characters, and with this new version, we like them, but I don’t know how much we truly care about them.  The villain was your typical mustache twirling cliched weasel, but for that specific stock character type, Peter Sarsgaard did a fine job getting us to hate him.  That’s truly the extent of what didn’t really work with the film, which is hardly anything.  You could say that the plot was extremely predictable; sure it was but it didn’t bother me in the least.  I was just looking for a great, popcorn thrill-ride western and that’s exactly what I got and I really can’t complain.  We see too few westerns these days and when they are done right, they really stand out and for me, this was a major standout.

“The Magnificent Seven” is truly one of the more fun movie going experiences that I have had all year.  This was a typical stock, but faithfully true western picture that reminded me why I love this genre so much.  This isn’t a deep movie, but it had so much to say about the time period and it just was so much damn fun.  If you are a fan of Fuqua or love western films, then please go check this one out.  “The Magnificent Seven” is explosive and thrilling, with a big tip of the hat to the originals.  However, this new version stands on its own, and in the hands of Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua, they really spice up the genre with lots of new flavor.  “The Magnificent Seven” is the most fun experience that I’ve had at the cinemas this year and I hope down the line we get to see more from this genre, because no matter what they say, the western never truly stays dead.

Grade:  A+  

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