Directed by Antoine Fuqua Starring Denzel Washington, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard, Ethan Hawke, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio, Film Review by Chris Olson The Western is a film genre ingrained with fantastic stories, many of which receive, and deserve, retelling. In a world with more reboots per month than you can point a six-shooter at, many will be thinking why do we need another version of The Magnificent Seven. The 1960 version is still a very watchable movie, and Seven Samurai, which was the original seed of this particular story, is a beloved classic that regularly tops film lists. So why? Well, the main reason is because this film, much like its characters, is as badass as they come.
For those unfamiliar with the set up, the plot centres around a small rural community in a dusty American town who are besieged by a violent group of miners, led by a formidable Peter Sarsgaard. After a brutal skirmish with the hostile invaders, in which Haley Bennett’s husband is killed, she sets about acquiring the help of an ace-shooting bounty hunter (Denzel Washington) to help take back their town. Said bounty hunter goes on to assemble and unlikely bunch of gunslingers and hired help to form...you guessed it. The rest of the film is spent with the #Mag7 training up the town to prepare for the inevitable battle coming their way once Sarsgaard hears of the revolt. First off director Antoine Fuqua is the perfect choice for this film. Back in the saddle (ahem) with Washington and Ethan Hawke, who were both in Fuqua's 2001 bludgeoning Training Day, the revamp of The Magnificent Seven packs so much gritty punch, audiences will be spitting gravel for days. It is heavy on the realism and biting when it needs to be, with the right amount of comedy injected by Vincent D'Onofrio and Chris Pratt to keep it from sliding into a barrel of blood and bullets. There is a no nonsense to Fuqua's direction which stops it getting bogged down in demographic box ticking or "staying true" to the point of ruin. Be sure, this film is its own film. The music from Simon Franglen and James Horner is heartily direct, avoiding the softly strumming guitars and opting for a harsher tone which totally compliments the nature of the characters. The editing is snappy yet fair, allowing scenes to develop enough to engage you but never outstaying their welcome. As for the cinematography, I have personally seen better in films of this genre (The Revenant, True Grit etc), but it still nicely done adding a naturalistic contrast to the atrocities occurring.
Shout out to Hawke's performance as the PTSD-riddled gunslinger whose anguished attempts to once again assimilate into violence is completely engrossing and his brotherly banter with knife-throwing artiste Byung-hun Lee serves up some of the nicest moments in the movie. Pratt is not the buffoonish cowboy you may be expecting, this is not Starlord-goes-West. His performance adds another notch to his already impressive list of mega movie outings. The comedy award for The Magnificent Seven actually goes to D'Onofrio, whose high pitched ramblings and shocking outbursts are as hilarious as they are endearing. Bennett does well to add some emotional gravitas to the fighting, but gets a little overlooked once the boys turn up.
Washington and Sarsgaard steal the movie though. The former as a believable hero developed well throughout the film and the latter as a heinously awesome villain who is pitch-perfectly poisonous.
Doing exactly what a remake should do, Fuqua’s film kicks up its own swirl of dust and by the time it settles you have forgotten why anyone would want to complain.