A rousing action film with a top-notch cast, The Magnificent Seven is a classic tale of western revenge with a fresh Hollywood sheen.
A newly constructed rendition of a tale with roots tracing back to 1950s Japan, The Magnificent Seven is a rare Hollywood remake that doesn’t try to change the game by way of updating the action for a modern audience.
It keeps its sensibilities lovingly stuck in the past while utilizing current filmmaking technologies to craft a finished product that’s sleek, stoic, and sensationally fun to watch. Director Antoine Fuqua has taken on the unenviable task of tossing another remake into a crowded ring, but walks away with his hat resting firmly on his head.
One should be quick to point out that for all its many positive attributes, Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven isn’t exactly a home run cinematic smash. To say it lacks depth would be an understatement and the characters don’t encounter any arcs to explore. But this critic didn’t mind any of that because the film’s tone of earnest enthusiasm is engrossing enough to bypass the reservations that do pop up.
The Magnificent Seven is best approached with your expectations firmly in check: It’s meant to be nothing more than a rip-roarin’ story of heroism and frontier justice. In that regard, it succeeds with flying colours.
Those demanding a bit more might be better off staying home and watching the 1960 original – or better yet, the true original film, Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The Magnificent of 1960 is a timeless western classic and 1954’s Seven Samurai is one of cinema’s greatest masterpieces; this 21st century Magnificent Seven is dwarfed by those shadows but should still be appreciated in its own right.
Antoine Fuqua is a talented filmmaker but his film isn’t the stuff of legend. However, everyone involved seems to know that, and they embrace that fact and in turn set their sights on being purely entertaining. You got Denzel Washington slinging six-shooters, settlin’ scores, and saving the day. That’s enough alone to let you know it’s going to be a good time at the movies. Grab some popcorn.
The film features a whole lot of gunplay, well-photographed landscapes, charming performances, solid laughs, and just enough earned sentiment to give your emotions a bit of a twirl. For some audiences, that’s going to be enough.
High art this ain’t. But it is a damn fine piece of entertainment made with skill. And you can’t do much better than being led along the way by two of the most effortlessly charming A-list leading men working today – Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. Those two stars, as you might expect, are pure dynamite together.
When the bullets start to fly they come out blazing fast and furious. The big setpieces of the film are impressively staged and immaculately executed. Despite not featuring any superheroes, the film’s climax is as action-packed and exciting as almost any other sequence this year.
We live in a much more sensitive time and there’s something sort of off-putting about so much gun violence represented in a PG-13 movie. But unfortunately those elements come with the territory of a good old western showdown. As a throwback to the type of heroic action the silver screen was raised on, The Magnificent Seven more than ably pays its dues.
A lot of the joy to be had with the film involves the titular Seven’s pure camaraderie. Recent large ensembles endear themselves to audiences because they become more than just a ragtag group of characters thrust together for a common purpose; these crews act like families, and it’s completely heartening to watch the Seven men bond.
Take a look at anything from The Avengers to Furious 7 to Suicide Squad – audiences love it when their heroes (or anti-heroes) generally get along nice and form their own little mixed family unit. It makes you want to be part of their team, or assemble a gang of your own.
The Magnificent Seven might appeal to audiences simply out of novelty – it’s got an attractive cast and there aren’t exactly many westerns hitting the multiplex these days. When the 1960 version of the story was adapted from Kurosawa’s masterpiece for a North American audience, it became a cornerstone of the real golden age of westerns.
This 2016 update doesn’t break the mould and almost certainly won’t stand the test of time with its two classic forbearers. But films in the genre are rare birds indeed these days, and it’s sort of comforting to be transported to an analog time when justice reined supreme in the hearts and pistols of good men.
Three and a half out of five!