The Magnificent Seven (2016) review
Within the dust of the west, contains evidence of fierce battles and rousing gunfights that shaped towns and helped evolved the states to become what they are today. Legends like Billy the Kid, Doc Holiday, Wyatt Earp, and gangs like the Cowboys have inspired several stories that have been enjoyed for decades. People tend to forget that before we launched into space, the western genre was very popular. In this day in age, westerns seem old fashioned and are hard to compete with in the day and age of CGI blockbusters. While I can understand the issues that people would have with them (history of Native Americans, the grittiness, etc…), it’s material like that that helps us understand our history.
One of the most well known westerns is the original The Magnificent Seven from 1960. It was an American remake of Seven Samurai that told about the seven gunmen who helped defend a Mexican village of bullying bandits. While I don’t see it as one of the greatest movies, it’s a fun action movie that contains one of the most memorable musical themes from the late great Elmer Bernstein. The new The Magnificent Seven figured that with it’s famous legacy, it had to make changes.
Instead of a Mexican village being terrorized by bandits, we are now in Rose Creek, California where a sociopath industrialist Bartholomew Bouge (played by Peter Sarsgaard) has total control of the nearby mines who also has the Sheriff on his payroll and several agents on his side. During a Sunday Church service, he forces them out, burns the chapel down, and then murders a bunch of farmers that tried to stand up to him. One of the farmers wives, Emma Cullen (played by Haley Bennett) rides to a nearby town for help and comes across bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (played by Denzel Washington).
Upon hearing who the industrialist is, Chisolm agrees to come and find other gunslingers. His seven consists of gambler Josh Faraday (played by Chris Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (played by Ethan Hawke), Knife-wielding master Billy Rocks (played by Byung-hun Lee), tracker hunter Jack Horne (played by Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (played by Martin Sensmeier) and Mexican outlaw Vasquez (played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). The seven and Emma return to Rose Creek to help prepare the remaining townsfolk for Bouge’s army that’s going to arrive. Gun battles, TNT explosions, and everything you’d expect in a Western are all here.
The summer had been home to a lot of remakes, so something like The Magnificent Seven you’d think would fall into the period of white noise where it could get lost. Luckily, like the Pete’s Dragon remake, this retelling made plenty of changes to make it a different while keeping the same plot of people hired to defend others against bullies. Like before, the building to the big stand off is slow, but I think they make the character’s interesting enough that you want to follow them on horseback.
A story like this (which has been told countless times since Seven Samurai) requires some good actors as our team of seven. This is also the case as Denzel Washington always does well with the majority of his part, as seems to work well with Chris Pratt who is defiantly at home as this gambler. The rest of the team are enjoyable to watch as they interact with each other. One of the major differences here is that unlike the 1969 original, the team is mixed with several ethnicities. I appreciate how that unlike Ghostbusters which kept emphasizing that women are now leading, this one simply gives us our select gunslingers without question. You simply have to accept them what they are.
I’ll say that without a doubt, the duel between the town and the villain’s army is great. It may not be one of the best action scenes of all time, but they do almost everything they could imagine with their surroundings.
If I did have any problems, they’d be that some of the buildup can be a little too slow, like when they pull off that trope where one guy says he’s not going to help when you know very well he’ll eventually come around. I wish they’d just skip that.
I’ll give this four and a half western comics out of five. The Magnificent Seven is a nice return to a fun western. This is defiantly darker and grittier then the Yul Brynner story, but it’s a modern movie, so you have to expect that. Rather then including a lot of modernisms like A Million Ways to Die in the West or a really out there concept like Cowboys & Aliens, this is a simple story that is taken to the right level. This remake can proudly ride into the sunset.
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