The 1960’s classic, The Magnificent Seven, was a rousing action packed western that has stood the test of time. It’s a reworking of the 1954 Akira Kurosawa masterpiece, Seven Samurai. The story for both films are quite simple, a small town is being accosted and used for its resources and land. The town can’t seem to fight back and hire a team of unlikely heroes to help rescue them from their plight brought on by their vandals. In 2016, director Antoine Fuqua of Training Day fame, has taken on the task of remaking an all time legendary western. Taking on a classic is always a daunting task and most of the time unsuccessful. Can the talents of director Fuqua pull off what few directors could?
The Magnificent Seven makes a triumphant return to the big screen. Starring a host of talented actors: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee and Peter Sarsgaard. A corrupt robber baron, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), descends upon the tiny western town of Rose Creek for its riches in gold that he’d like to mine. Bogue has no regard for whom he has to run through to accomplish his goal, even if it’s at the cost of human life. A young wife, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), whose husband paid the ultimate price has decided to take it upon herself to find someone, anyone that could save the town of Rose Creek and its people. She acquires the services Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), a man familiar with the likes of the baron, to help fight the vandals that have overtaken her town. Chisolm goes on a journey to put together a team of talented, but unlikely anti-heroes to fight back the baron and to convince the townspeople that their town is worth fighting for.
Director Antoine Fuqua has successfully crafted a classic western from its heyday of the 1950’s with the darker tones of the spaghetti westerns of the mid 1960’s. The film is full of majestic western motifs, the scenic beauty of the southwest, and Cowboys that stink of whiskey and have a six shooter on their hip. This is intertwined with a wealth action, gunplay, graphic violence, and even a bit humor. The cast does an admirable job falling into their western counterparts. Chris Pratt plays the poker playing, gun slinging Josh Faraday. Pratt is so charming, just like he is in everything he does, I could watch a movie with him reading the names out of a phone book. Ethan Hawke is Goodnight Robicheaux, a former confederate soldier trying to find his place in the “new” west. Denzel Washington as Chisolm gives a great performance as a man whose past has caught up with him and seeks peace through vengeance. The only issue with a character I found was with Peter Sarsgaard as Bogue. He felt more like a comic book villain than a living, breathing person. I get we’re not suppose to like him, but just a bit of empathy goes a long way. These actors, including the ones I mentioned earlier, have great chemistry together. By the time the extremely violent finally is upon us, we are hoping this newly founded team can pull off the impossible against a horde of enemies intent on dispatching them and the town they are protecting.
The Magnificent Seven is the best Summer movie the Fall season has ever gotten. While nowhere near as great as the 60’s film, this is a success in its own right and once I heard that classic Magnificent Seven theme I could not help but feel my heart fill with glee as memories of watching the original with my dad came flooding back. Speaking of music, the movie’s score is a fantastic mix of the old west and the contemporary. I do have to lodge a minor, but noticeable complaint. This new Seven is violent and I mean so violent that perhaps an “R” rating would’ve been more appropriate. The Magnificent Seven is a simple story told well in this remake. The actors were top notch and looked as if they had a good time filming it. The set-pieces were beautifully shot, and the action was intense, violent and at times suspenseful. The Magnificent Seven truly is the best Summer western we never got, do not miss it.