The basic storyline is that a town is under the thumb of a ruthless bad guy, and seven loners band together to save the town and its people.
This current version updates the story, with director Antoine Fuqua deliberately casting a diverse roster of actors to tell the story, instead of them all being white cowboys. He also further made this film different by changing the names and occupations of the seven, as well as giving the lead female character more to do than be the damsel in distress.
My spoiler-free review is that The Magnificent Seven hearkens back to the classic westerns, and was a lot of fun to watch. It doesn’t surpass the 1960 film, but it more than holds its own as an entertaining movie, with excellent performances by the cast.
Continue scrolling for the review with possible spoilers…
In the late 1870s, a town called Rose Creek is being terrorized by a corrupt businessman named Bartholomew Bogue (played by Peter Sarsgaard). After he burns down the church and kills her husband (a woefully underused Matt Bomer), Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), and her friend, Teddy Q (Luke Grimes), ride to the nearest town in search of someone who can help them.
They meet with bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who turns them down…until he hears the name Bogue. He then sets out to recruit some gunslingers to help.
Joining him in his quest are gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), legendary sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), skilled mountain-man tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), and notorious Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).
Each has his own reason for joining Chisholm, and each lends an interesting talent to the final battle scene. A battle which is huge in scope, while utilizing all the leads well.
If you’ve seen the 1960 version, you have an idea how this ends. If you haven’t, I won’t spoil it for you, but it is very bittersweet.
A big part of what makes this version work is the quality cast Fuqua assembled. Washington delivers a measured performance as the glue that holds the group of individuals together. Pratt and D’Onofrio really seemed to embody their character quirks, and provided a lot of the humor in the film. Lee was also a stand-out as the assassin and best friend of Robicheaux – it took me a bit to recognize where I’d seen him before (in the Korean horror film I Saw the Devil).
As the lone woman, Bennett holds her own among all the testosterone, being equal parts feisty and determined to help save her home.
The only performance that fell flat to me was Sarsgaard, who plays his bad guy like a charicature, rather than a fleshed-out character. I almost expected him to twirl his mustache on every close-up. But he’s not actually in the film much, so I could over look it.
It should also be noted this was the last soundtrack by composer James Horner, and it sets the tone of the film beautifully.
The Magnificent Seven is a rollicking Western that is heavily influenced by the classics, and delivers on the entertainment. Just don’t judge it by the 1960 version – you’ll be doing yourself and the film a disservice.
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The Magnificent Seven
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk; based on the screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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Tagged: Antoine Fuqua, Byung-hun Lee, Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Haley Bennett, Luke Grimes, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, movie review, Peter Sarsgaard, The Magnificent Seven, Vincent D'Onofrio, Western movies