The Magnificent Seven Review

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By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
 
In 1954, Akira Kurosawa released a little film titled Seven Samurai, about a village who is threatened by bandits, and a recruited group of seven samurai who come together to protect the villagers and win back their freedom from their oppressors. Seven Samurai has went down as one of the best films ever created by many media and film outlets, and rightfully so. Thus, it wasn’t a shock when, in 1960, the film was redone with an American cast with a western background and titled, The Magnificent Seven. Now, 62 years after the original film was released, and as Hollywood has been known to do of late, the film has, once again, been reimagined with a new cast but the same general story., Brought to us by director Antoine Fuqua, we have a new version of the old faithful western, The Magnificent Seven.
 
Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is a capitalist who takes what he wants. And what he wants is the land, and mines, in a small frontier town. He offers the people $20 per parcel of land, and when people disagree, he shows the town the errors of their ways by killing many of the men. They’re given three weeks to think over his proposition, or face the consequences. One who refuses to take the consequences is Emma Cullen (Hayley Bennett), now a widow. She leaves, traveling looking for people who will fight with her. She finds one in warrant officer and peace keeper Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who brings along the romancer Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), the wanted Mexican  Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a former Civil War sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his Asian compatriot, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), the famed tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), and the Comanche, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). These seven take it upon themselves to stand up for the town, and take the fight to Bogue and his men. But will seven be enough to stand against a small army?
 

Denzel Washington stars in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

Denzel Washington stars in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures’ THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.

 
Having never seen the original Magnificent Seven (yes, I know, the movie guy hasn’t seen the original), I have nothing to compare it to, and maybe that’s a good thing. Yet, I have watched Seven Samurai and this isn’t something that can be compared. This new Magnificent Seven is a film for today’s audience, lacking much of the art brought forth by Kurosawa, as well as character development and relationships. While the film is set in the day of the old west, there is a significant lack of cinematography, or even trying to make the location look remotely picturesque. But it does deliver a sense of what small town life was like, especially that of a mining town, and the constant threats that did lurk from day to day. Fuqua uses a slow build to the film, beginning it with high tension, then allowing the group to assemble, the tensions to rise, until we hit our peak with the final showdown. The action sequence are fun, and will keep you thoroughly entertained, and, being a film of 2016, there’s plenty of comedic moments to take you way from the drudgery of living in dirt during this time period.
 
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While the original film is an ensemble, and this may also be billed that way, Washington and Pratt get top screen time. They are the biggest actors, and Pratt’s one of the hot leads in Hollywood today, so why wouldn’t he? Washington takes on the leadership role of the film, in a role that doesn’t really stretch him as an actor. This was a role he could have done in his sleep, and only gets to the meat of the character in the final ten minutes. Pratt is a drinking, romancing, magician gun slinger who has some of the best one liners in the film. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I tend to see much of the same characters in every character Pratt plays. And, while he’s fun to watch and seems to be a good guy off screen, he’s going to need to step his thespian game up and show his range as an actor. Peter Sarsgaard kind of steals the show with his portrayal of the bad guy. He makes you want to bash his face in and hope, with the highest hopes you may have, that he ends up with a painfully, grueling death in the same fashion as Joffrey or Ramsay Bolton from Game of Thrones. And we ALL loved when they met their end. Other notable performances were from Ethan Hawke, who still deals with the demons he carries from the men he killed during the war, and Vincent D’Onofrio, who really is one of the absolute best character actors, completely transforming himself into his role. I’d even be so bold as to call him the Daniel Day-Lewis of character actors. I was also very impressed with Hayley Bennett, who shows varying levels of pain and anger, sadness and determination, in her role to find righteousness or revenge for what was done to her town, her people and her husband.
 
Could The Magnificent Seven have been better? Definitely so. There could have been more character development, more relationship building with the people of the town, more of Sarsgaard, more of an understanding of the amount of men Bogue had, and how the ranks were thinning in the final fight. But, none of that is here, and it’s a shame. What we do have is a highly entertaining film, some nice action sequences, funny one liners, a great bad guy and some nice moments from the actors here and there. Being a western, the genre doesn’t tend to perform well at the box-office, but with the title of the film, plus the star power of Washington and Pratt, there’s a good chance it’ll do better than most other westerns. It may not be the best film out, but it’s a good film to end summer on and bring in Fall.
 
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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


    One Comment

  1. SuziSeptember 26th, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    The story telling was so tight, we learn more about the characters in a few sentences than most films give us in half the movie! I think you under rated by at least a star & a half!

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