The Magnificent Seven
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Both The Magnificent Seven and Seven Samurai are among my favorite movies of all time, so when there was a remake of The Magnificent Seven lined up, my interest was piqued to say the least. The film delivered, for the most part, just what you’d expect from Antoine Fuqua, the director of action flicks like Olympus Has Fallen, Training Day, Southpaw and The Equalizer. A decent yet entertaining action thriller that benefits from an A-List cast, but is ultimately forgettable.
When the town of Rose Creek comes under attack from a greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, who’s looking for a nearby goldmine, the surviving townspeople are pressured into action and Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) leads a two-person expedition in order to recruit as many people as she can. Her quest to seek righteousness (although revenge will do) leads her to bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, who has a run in with Bogue in the past and rounds up a group of seven gunslingers to take on the industrialist and his army. It’s an interesting match-up that benefits greatly from an all-star cast, with a great performance from Denzel Washington in particular. Chris Pratt essentially just plays Peter Quill and Owen Brady again here as the roguish, charming outlaw. Ethan Hawke’s character gets a fair bit of development as the marksman who no longer uses his gun. However, don’t expect any incredibly complex characters just because each member of the Seven get their own moment in the spotlight. It is all fairly predictable, particularly if you’ve seen the original as certain character beats are repeated.
Antoine Fuqua does know how to do action well and the climatic fight is just as good as you’d expect. It’s intense, action packed and features some great moments for each of the characters to shine. The townspeople of Rose Creek aren’t developed that well beyond a select few, but given their size and the fact that this film largely moves at a fairly brisk pace, you can’t really expect much more. The performances from the cast is pretty solid, and in particular, it’s a welcome return to the Western genre for Lee Byung-hun following his role in The Good, the Bad and the Weird. Another recognisable face is also Daredevil and Jurassic Park star, Vincent D’Onofrio, who really impresses as the tracker Jack Horne.
The soundtrack is never going to be as memorable as Elmer Bernstein’s legendary score for John Sturges’ film of course, but James Horner (sadly, his final film score) and Simon Franglen do their jobs well. This leads to possibly one of the best moments in the film when Bernstein’s original score from Sturges’ movie plays over the end credits.
The action is fun, the script is decent, and the movie uses its fairly diverse A-List cast well with a particularly strong showing for Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke. It might just be Washington and Fuqua’s best movie since Training Day, and whilst it is not without its problems in the form of its predictability, it is still worth checking out if you get the chance. Ultimately, and unsurprisingly, it cannot quite top the greatness of both Akira Kurosawa and John Sturges.