By Ben Nietzel
The (literally) Magnificent Seven
The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 classic pitting seven gunfighters against an army of hired thugs set on taking over a town.
Pro – They are who we thought they were
The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the 1960 cowboy classic of the same name, which is itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 classic Seven Samurai. While details vary, all three films share a basic premise of seven unique fighters coming together to save a town of helpless people. In that sense, anyone with knowledge of the earlier films will know the basic beats of the plot.
Director Antoine Fuqua doesn’t get too cute, and he delivers on the promise of the film. With the basic story already in place, he is instead free to concentrate on the details the audience wants and expects from a western. There are gorgeous vistas, lovingly recreated towns and outfits, and all the hallmarks of a great western: whisky, duels, horses, poker, and people being thrown through windows. In a time where few true westerns grace the sliver screen, newbies will discover the joy of the genre while veterans will remember why they were so fond of them in the first place.
Pro – The Seven
Director Antoine Fuqua has assembled an outstanding cast to fill out his seven heroes. Denzel Washington is great as always, and has the gravitas and coolness to rival any cowboy of the past. Chris Pratt feels a bit out of place, but the movie does play to his comedic strengths without overdoing it. Ethan Hawke, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier each play a unique and great character and were all so compelling; I’d gladly watch a origin story of anyone one of them. Of the seven, though, special mention has to go to Vincent D’Onofrio, whose trapper Jack Horne is just fascinating. Haley Bennett is also excellent as recent widow and the backbone of the town, Emma Cullen. This movie is stuffed full of talented people having fun and showcasing their talent.
Con – Talking
This is a very small con. Westerns are not complicated. The plot is usually pretty simple and formulaic. The key to a good western is the action and dialogue. The Magnificent Seven has the former in spades. The shoot-outs and stunts are outstanding. The dialogue, on the other hand, is fine. It’s certainly not bad. There are dramatic lines and certainly some really funny lines as well; there just aren’t that many cool lines. I didn’t leave the theater asking anyone if they wanted to be my huckleberry or whistle Dixie. Not a big thing, but with such great actors, I would have expected a little more memorable dialogue. Also, a few scenes had dialogue I really couldn’t understand, despite being in a perfectly quiet theater with the latest and greatest Atmos Sound. These are very small quibbles in an otherwise amazing movie.
The Magnificent Seven is a credit to the films that went before it, and it brings the western roaring back into modern cinema. Saddle up and ride out to the theater to see it!