MOVIE: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
STARRING: DENZEL WASHINGTON; CHRIS PRATT; ETHAN HAWKE; PETER SARSGAARD
DIRECTED BY: ANTOINE FUQUA
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
I was astonished, that in his 39 years of acting in movies, The Magnificent Seven remake was Denzel Washington's first time playing a cowboy. The 2-time Oscar winner, has been an airplane pilot, a crooked cop, a head football coach, and Malcolm X, among many other characters. It is quite outrageous that it took this long, but the ten gallon hat suits the American Gangster star, and reunites him with director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day; Southpaw) for the third time. This 2016 version may not reach the level of nostalgia generated from the John Sturges original, which was also remade from Akira Kurosawa's classic Seven Samurai, but with an enjoyable all-star cast and a fantastic finale, The Magnificent Seven rolls into town and blazes its own trail.
The setting takes place in the simple town of Rose Creek. With prospects of gold laying in the mountains, it has been taken over by greedy villain Bartholomew Bogue (played by a sweaty and scary Peter Sarsgaard) with his gang of followers. The bad guy's flex their muscles in a ruthless opening sequence, where blood is shed and the church is set aflame. This sends townsfolk Emma Cullen (Hardcore Henry actor- Haley Bennett) in search for someone or some men to stand up to the bully to protect their people.
The star studded cast of seven delivers on bringing their unique attributes to the film, but the script from Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto is a bit undercooked to reach full “Magnificent” status. Washington leads as warrant officer Sam Chisolm, who sports impressive mutton chops, dressed in all black, and has a mysterious past with the evil Bogue. Unlike the Sturges original, Fuqua has assembled a more diverse cast of characters and relies more on the action. Chris Pratt brings his cool comic relief, but his gun slinger Faraday lacks the depth that the Jurassic World star deserves. Ethan Hawke brings more to the table, engaging in the Training Day reunion as Goodnight Robicheaux, along with his knife wielding pal Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee). Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays a Mexican outlaw that Chisolm takes in for help and then later recruits the Indian Warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). That leaves for one final member- the burley mountain man Jack Horne- played with eccentric, scene stealing ease by Vincent D'Onofrio. It's a wildly skilled group, engaging in friendly chats in a the saloon and training the townspeople to take out Bogue when he returns with bigger numbers. Unfortunately, these moments are not enough time spent with each character to truly grasp each members personality.
For some movies, the final payoff is enough to justify the price of a ticket, and that's what happens here. The build up to the climactic ending is tense, with strong attention to the battle, much like the way of films such as The Dirty Dozen or the recent Fast & Furious franchise has displayed. In many respects, Fuqua's interpretation of a western feels like a current, updated version that is heavy on the fire power, with a slick group of actors. When the seven men show off their skills of knives, bows, and guns to make one last stand, its high quality entertainment. The fight against Bogue is at times chaotic and scary, delivering a better action sequence than many of the other blockbuster duds we saw this summer.
Eventually, there are some complaints to be made about missed opportunities of using these actors to their fullest abilities, but they do deliver more than what is written on the pages. It's safe to say that this is the lesser of the three Magnificent Seven versions, with a fantastic finale. I had a moment of happiness though, where Denzel Washington was firing his six-shooter while hanging off the side of his galloping horse, thinking, this man is a movie star. He was born to play a cowboy and that's pretty magnificent.
Written by: Leo Brady