Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio
THE PLOT: In the old West, businessman and rogue Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) has his eye on the small town of Rose Creek, which happens to be home to a literal gold mine. When Bogue kills several of the town’s men and gives everyone else three weeks to decide whether or not to sell to him, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) sets out to round up outlaws whose loyalty can be bought, in order to protect the town from Bogue and his men.
THE VERDICT: A remake of a remake of a remake, it seems like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is another remake that is surplus to requirements – and in many ways it is – but there is enough in the film to keep audiences interested, even if this new version of the story of gunslingers fighting for the little guys is heavy on action and light on plot.
The seven are made up of Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier. Each of them do fine in their role, although they are never really given a chance to be anything other than superficial. It is obvious that the seven have fun with their roles though – especially Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke – and their enthusiasm is infectious. The rest of the cast is made up of Haley Bennett, Matt Bomer and Peter Sarsgaard, whose villain is just the right amount of oily and sinister.
Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto’s screenplay – adapted from ‘Seven Samurais’, not the 1960 film, for those curious – is fine, but the dialogue is nothing special and the story often runs a little thin. None of the characters are particularly well fleshed out, and we learn how the characters know one another but never truly discover their motivations in taking on a fight that isn’t theirs.
As director, Antoine Fuqua keeps the film moving at a steady pace for the first two acts, before the final set piece arrives and sucks any sense of urgency out of the film. The performances from the cast are fine, but most are one note and, as mentioned, the audience never really gets to know anything about this merry band of anti-heroes, leading to an emotional disconnect with the film. That said, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is beautifully shot, and shows off Monument Valley – made famous by so many great Westerns – to great effect.
In all, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ is a remake we didn’t need, but there is fun to be had here. The cast do fine with the little they are given, and the film looks beautiful, it just needed stronger character development and some better pacing in the final act.
Review by Brogen Hayes

  • filmbuff2011

    Akira Kurosawa’s masterful The Seven Samurai has been reworked by Hollywood several times, including an outer-space version in Battle Beyond The Stars. The best-known remake is The Magnificent Seven, a well-regarded 1960 film from John Sturges. Fast forward to 2016 and we have a remake of a remake with a new take on The Magnificent Seven.

    California during the Wild West. The peaceful people of Rose Creek find themselves being tormented by robber baron Bart (Peter Sarsgaard). He wants to drive them out and take the land for himself, given that it’s beside a profitable mine. Having lost her husband to Bart, Emma (Haley Bennett) is gunning for righteousness – or revenge. She approaches Chisholm (Denzel Washington), a nomadic peace officer who brings in bounties – dead or alive. She offers the wealth of the town in exchange for his help in ridding them of Bart and his band of marauders. Chisholm and smart-talking gunslinger Josh (Chris Pratt) head off to gather up a band to fight back: sharp-shooter Goodnight (Ethan Hawke), knife man Billy (Byung-hun Lee), Mexican Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), tracker Jack (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Native American Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). They are The Magnificent Seven and the battle to take back Rose Creek has begun…

    Is Hollywood running out of ideas? Remaking older, well-regarded properties seems to be a trend. What next? The Ten Commandments? We recently had a half-way decent but hopelessly inferior take on Ben-Hur, so how does this new take on The Magnificent Seven fare? It doesn’t fare too badly actually. The story of hired gunslingers doing something for the good of others is too good to screw up anyway. The question really boils down to justification. Why remake it? Well, good stories are worth re-telling. Director Antoine Fuqua has reworked some elements of the original, by relocating the setting from Mexico to California. He’s also updated the ethnic mix of the seven themselves and there’s a stronger role for women too – both welcome modern touches which make this film feel justified, rather than ‘just another remake’.

    Re-united with his Training Day co-stars Washington and Hawke, Fuqua assembles a motley but likeable bunch of character actors to play the other gunslingers – D’Onofrio is a highlight as a big bear of a man with a soft-spoken voice. Saarsgard is a touch panto as the villainous Bart, but the actors all complement each other nicely with their wildly different characters. The actors clearly had a ball, though the lesser-known actors playing the Seven have under-written parts. It’s more violent than its predecessor as well, with a predictably darker, more brutal edge that hints at the earlier work of Fuqua. That’s typical remake screenwriting – make it darker to differentiate it from the more traditional western of the 1960 film. That’s not really a complaint though, as it makes for tense and tough gun-fights which would stir the closet cowboy/cowgirl in any viewer.

    So, while The Magnificent Seven 2016 isn’t quite magnificent, it’s a perfectly reasonable, acceptable and rousing remake of a remake. It can’t surpass The Seven Samurai or the 1960 film, but it doesn’t need to. It just needed to justify its existence – which, for once, it does in spades. Good stuff. ***