The original Magnificent Seven is required viewing for every classic Western fan. That 1960 film was a remake of The Seven Samurai, which is also required viewing for anyone. It’s a classic tale that continues to be remade in every type of genre. Yes, even Bug’s Life is a remake of the source material.
The ‘60s Magnificent Seven had a star-studded cast including Steve McQueen, Yul Brenner, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach and James Coburn. Now, this updated version, directed by Antoine Fuqua, boasts CHRIS PRATT, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, CHRIS PRATT, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D’Onofrio and CHRIS PRATT!
The seven come together when they are sought after to rescue a town in trouble. Villainous Bart Bogue has the town under constant threat, with the strength of a small army at his back. Cue Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) and his collected cohorts to fight for the town’s freedom. It’s the classic story of the underdog, except the underdog is a really good shot.
Every time I see a remake, which is quite frequent, I judge it on whether it adds anything to the story we know or if the particular director brings their unique vision to the feature.
The Magnificent Seven gets half credit. Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer) definitely has a style and it’s consistently full of great, emotional characterization, while still being fun to watch. I expected Magnificent Seven to be violent, but still focus on “The Seven.” On that note, any time there is gunplay, it’s a blast to watch. The action, which borders on the R-rated at times, is essentially gun-blazing, popcorn fun. Yet, it’s still a western, so the action is rare and largely kept till the end.
Given the longer runtime, this western has plenty of drag where we could further explore the characters. Sadly, the majority of what is known about them is given in the intros. This hurts the movie because you never care if any of them survive the final ordeal.
This movie was the perfect opportunity for a Training Day reunion. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke are great together. Yet, they don’t share much screen time here. Also, Washington doesn’t get much to do as a character. Hawke, clearly the best part of the entire movie, does a ton with the small amount of time he gets. Sarsgaard literally gets a killer introduction that sets him up as something not to be trifled with. However, that’s about all the plot cares to dedicate to him. My major frustration is that there are great actors here, but they don’t have anything to do, as if subplots were left on the cutting room floor.
Guess who gets the majority of the screen time? CHRIS PRATT! This is both a positive and a major negative. He boosts the movie by adding his relevant brand of comedy throughout. Without the scattered laughs, the slow scenes would drag even more than they do. Yet, it seems like scenes were written just to expand on his witticism and that’s about it. He makes for a great Star Lord (Guardians of the Galaxy), but the charming, clumsy know-it-all doesn’t translate well to Jurassic World or Magnificent Seven. It may be time to put the act to bed, as he is clearly the weakest link here.
It feels as though Fuqua had to balance the line between PG-13 and R. Pratt’s large presence is sure to bring in a crowd, but the movie suffers for not taking itself more seriously. If you have teenagers who normally wouldn’t tolerate westerns, this may be the gateway flick.
The Magnificent Seven will quickly be forgotten in the annals of Western movie history. Yet, it’s enjoyable to sit through. I wish the cast had more to do, but the greatest strength of the movie is violence, leading up to and including, the big finale. The Magnificent Seven is an unnecessary remake that is worth renting and watching on a Saturday afternoon. C