The Magnificent Seven
I love western movies; always have - always will. They epitomize the moral tales from an era when life was simple and the interacting conflicts between people were simple matters of either being someone who was good or someone who was evil - being a person who was morally right with a gun or someone who was morally wrong with a gun. So when I heard they were doing a remake of the “The Magnificent Seven” from the 1960 original starring Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen, needless to say I was excited no matter who was directing or starring in the modern adaptation.
In the 2016 effort we find Director Antoine Fuqua bringing his modern vision to a this classic story beginning in the 1870 American western town of Rose Creek which is under the deadly control of an industrialist named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Desperate to rid themselves of this one man tyrannical murdering megalomaniac the good towns people employ protection from a territorial deputized man named Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). He subsequently begins to recruit outlaws; a mix of bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns starting with a slick lady’s man who has a way with a gun named Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt). They take off to solicit Josh’s old friend Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), and others including Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and a Comanche named Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). They all eventually meet in Rose Creek to prepare the somewhat sheepish town people for the violent showdown that they know is coming. But for these seven mercenaries they find themselves fighting for more than money and they hope to secure their personal rewards in the center of the town of Rose Creek in the form of a giant gun slinging finale.
PROS: The set locations and visuals for this film are breathtaking to look at. I want to live there.
CONS: “The Magnificent Seven” holds your attention in some instances and barely in others. But more specifically what makes its less than the original is it feels way too long. With a 2:15 minutes running time the film spent almost the entire first hour of these band of seven misfits simply talking and commiserating with each other about their respective pasts and how they will prepare to get ready for Mr. Bogue. And it’s this period and other moments (poor film editing – poor writing) that allows the overall film to lose some of its pacing and overall “authentic” western punch. In a few stances the only thing that was missing in some scenes was Dr. Phil entering in on horseback to mediate.
Visually and action wise the whole film itself is crafted very well, but the optics alone cannot make up for the spades of time that feel more like a lethargic “yarn” rather than what a western film should deliver in the form of real human peril and at least a few good moments of authentic “yee-haa”.
To Director Fugua’s credit he does have some good moments like infusing homages to other Western film classics including the first time we see Denzel as he rides into town almost identical to the visual scene of Clint Eastwood’s entrance in “High Plains Drifter”. In another instance you also see a quick draw shootout with Chris Pratt near a saloon that was very similar to Kevin Costner’s effort in “Silverado”.
In the end “The Magnificent Seven” 2016 is not bad to watch, so if you are bored this Saturday it’s good enough see. But if you want my advice, still see it at some point, I just recommend you do it in the leisure of your home on your own giant “Magnificent Seven-ty” inch Ultra Digital flat screen TV.