The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Remakes are about half of the movies playing in cinemas today. It seems as though there’s been a sudden drought of original content as screenwriters have migrated to television. Fortunately a remake doesn’t always mean a bad product is going to emerge, and this is present in the latest rehash of The Magnificent Seven.
The Magnificent Seven is the remake of the classic 1960 western, which in and of itself is a remake of Akiro Kurosawa’s great 1954 film, Seven Samurai. The newest incarnation maintains the same simple story of a small village in the old west suffering from the extortion of bandits. Batholomue Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is the wealthy leader of the bandit clan. However, the village, urgently needing help, goes about and finds a handful of volunteers who will fight for their freedom. The seven volunteers are led by Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and they are composed of the wiseass Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), the veteran Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), the vicious Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), the knife wielding Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), the outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and the solo Comanche Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
The key that makes this film such a joy ride is the great cast, albeit a sizeable one, they manage to wield great chemistry together. It was certainly great to see Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke reunite after Training Day, and I was also very pleased with the updated diversity of the cast, which amazingly fit seamlessly into the conservative western setting. It was also nice to have a participating female character portrayed by a notable Haley Bennett, an actress who is panning out the potential to be the breakout star of the fall (look out for her in The Girl on the Train). And while the cast isn’t distributed equal screen time, it is welcome; there are simply some characters that the audience is more interested in than others.
Director Antoine Fuqua was able to string together some incredibly enjoyable action sequences that echoed the reason why audiences fell in love with the Western genre in the first place. However, I felt that there were a little too many small inconsistencies that when piled up, it bore badly for the overall picture. For one, the motivations for each of the characters are incredibly superficial and not very realistic, then there is the incredible inaccuracy of the antagonists’ guns, the amount of ammunition that our protagonists seem to procure, etc. I don’t want to rant over the small details, but they were small fallacies that deteriorated an otherwise solid structure. And while I understand that these mistakes are usually ignored in a blockbuster film, I didn’t go into this movie expecting a blockbuster, but fun cinema.
This second remake manages to squeeze out a hell of a lot of fun. The great casting choices and their chemistry do well to entertain you when there aren’t bullets flying around. Fuqua manages to produce a recommendable film, while also respecting the legacy of its predecessors.