The Magnificent Seven is a remake of the classic which was in turns the remake of Akira Kurosawa’s greatest achievement, Seven Samurai. Antoine Fuqua, the man behind films like Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen, Shooter and more recently The Equalizer, helms the film while it stars his favorite protagonist, Denzel Washington in a pivotal role. It also stars Ethan Hawke, the man who made Training Day so special and Chris Pratt who has been on a roll since Guardians of the Galaxy. The film is an exact retelling of the events of its predecessor with the bandits replaced by gold miners and the peasants upgraded a level to be cast as town folks. Their poverty and weakness in front of their adversaries remains the same and at many junctures overwhelming.
The film starts with Bouge (Peter Sarsgaard) ordering the town folks of Rose Creek to vacate their lands and leave as he needs the place for his gold mining operations. He guns down several people to show his power which leaves some of the town folks distraught and writhing in pain. Emma (Haley Bennett), whose husband has been murdered leaves town to fetch hired guns to save her town. The film then concentrates on the recruitment of the men and their return to the town where they take on Bouge’s men and do some much needed house cleaning. They then go ahead to train the town folks to hold off against the furious onslaught of Bouge who hires an army and comes all guns blazing after his investment.
The Magnificent Seven is an extremely entertaining watch. The fact that the protagonists are all superbly cast and each and every one of them does a great job helps the film immensely. I will start by speaking about the performances of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Washington is an ever dependable man and here he is so effective that it is almost impossible to take our eyes off him in scenes that he populates the screen. Chris Pratt is the joker and the slick of the team and he does well too. His humor is great and so is his timing. Ethan Hawke has somewhat of a subdued role in comparison to their previous act together. He has a past which keeps haunting him and that leads to some interesting circumstances.
Peter Sarsgaard as Bouge has at best three scenes in the film. One in the beginning that establishes the premise, one towards the end and the final climatic battle sequence. He has very little to do apart from looking evil and being the cause for the Magnificent Seven to fire their weapons. I am not complaining because he was nothing more than the McGuffin that he ends up being and he proves to be a good one at that. Vincent D’Onofrio is one of my favorite actors these days. He is the lord of the extreme and here too he is brilliant. In an act that may not be called too long, he makes one hell of an impression. I especially liked the physicality that he brought to the role. Haley Bennett plays the damsel in distress who is not afraid to shoot a few herself. Sans a love story, her character stands tall on her own which is one of the best things about the film.
There are two action sequences on either halves of the film and both of the sequences are long enough and worthy enough to cover the runtime of the film. While the first one is a trailer to what is about to come, it is done with such authority and clarity that anyone and everyone will enjoy it. There is very little bloodshed shown but that doesn’t take away the edge from the action sequences. The final climatic battle is gigantic. Involving every gun available, it’s an open war with all modes of combat involved. The cinematography is sweeping and is in strong keeping with the narrative and feel of the film. The camera constantly keeps on surprising you and never lets you settle down into a comfort zone. Long wide takes establishing the topography, medium takes to let you feel the moments and close-ups to convey feelings and expressions are used organically for a compounded effect. The background score is apt.
On the flip side, I just have a handful of issues with the film.
- The character of one of Bouge’s Red Indian Henchmen is horrendously underused. There was so much that could have been done with him and the character of “Red Harvest” but was not done.
- Even though the film is entertaining and never lets you get restless, it is sometimes weighed down by a plot that is all too well known.
- The limited screen time of the baddie also affects the film in certain parts.
If you enjoy action film, The Magnificent Seven should be your pick for the week. It has everything going in its favor and is more than worthy of a remake. Even if Westerns are not your forte, you will like this film.
Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5)