The Magnificent 7 Review: An Ensemble Throwback

“I seek righteousness, as should we all. But I’ll take revenge.” -Emma Cullen

With the year 2016 defined by superheroes, remakes, and animated films, The Magnificent Seven gave a refreshing take on the western genre, with trigger-happy action, entertaining dialogue, and amazing cinematography.

Directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is well-known for Training Day, Shooter, and The Equalizer, The Magnificent Seven is a remake of John Sturges’ 1960 western film by the same name. The film stars Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt as two of the seven gun-wielding men who come together to help a poor town against an army of raiders.

The premise of this movie is simple. It is not original, for it is the plot of almost every western film: taking justice into ones’ own hands.

Seven gunslingers are hired by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) after the Old West town of Rose Creek is seized by a greedy industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), for the sake of mining gold.

What this movie did well was knowing what it was and not overreaching. Because the 2016 version of Magnificent Seven was actually a remake of the 1960 movie, which was a remake of a Japanese movie, I was afraid that it would try too hard to outshine its classic predecessors. The story was linear – which is not a bad thing. In fact, I can appreciate such a simple plot because there have been several movies this year that have become divisive among movie-goers because of their over-complicated plot and choppy storytelling.

I give props to Fuqua for staying true to the western-style of storytelling. One would assume that this remake would be a modernized version of the original, lacking the Old West lore, music, and cinematography.

If the Old West style is what you were looking for, this is definitely the movie for you. Bounty hunter Chisolm is introduced as a mysterious silhouette, appearing upon the horizon riding his horse in the signature desert haze. The panning and still scenes of the surrounding landscapes evoke a feeling of the past. The cinematography appears to possess a blend of modern technology at work and old film. Instead of utilizing flashy techniques and CGI to tell this story, Fuqua used widescreen style as a respect to the western classics.

While most of the movie relied on action, there is a sense of practicality, making the scenes look more dangerous and gritty. This movie looks real, making any movie-goer believe that all the action that goes down is possible. Fuqua could have added CGI to the appearance of the town, the explosions, and Bogue’s army, but then this remake would have been downgraded to just a modern day gun fight.

Down the film critic grapevine, I have heard that this movie lacks character development. I agree that it does, but not every movie needs a huge amount of character development. The Magnificent Seven realistically should not have a lot of character development. This movie is set in the post-Civil War Wild West, when gun-wielding men (and women) did not trust each other enough to tell them their life’s story, even if they teamed up to take down a vicious army of thieves. The exposition was miniscule because it fit in respectively with the period and the culture of the people at that point in time. Even today, who would tell their personal story to people that you have known for only a few days?

Despite not knowing everything about the characters, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt shined as bounty-hunter Chisolm and gambler Josh Faraday. Chisolm and Faraday captured the screen with their charisma, mysterious pasts, and awesome shooting abilities.

It is because Denzel and Chris shine in this movie that I am disappointed in the lack of screen time for Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee). Surprisingly, these two characters became interesting to watch, for they gave off an air of mystery without the use of stylish cinematography or extra dialogue. Sensmeier and Lee fleshed out their quiet characters, drawing me into wanting to see more of them.

About the other characters – Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), and Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) – they were more like secondary characters, but that is what happens when you have a movie about a group of people. Some unfortunately get placed on the back burner.

However, each character in the group had their own quirk that made the dialogue, on and off the battlefield, entertaining. They were not just there to be there. These gunslingers were convincingly a part of the Magnificent Seven.

The Magnificent Seven was an enjoyable action-packed film that not only had old western fans reminiscing, but also has the potential to gain admirers from the younger generation. It had realistic action, enjoyable conversations, and riveting cinematography. It even dared to have some heart.

The Magnificent Seven may not be original, and it may not be better than its predecessors, but the realism of gun-powdered action and the refreshing look at its western style satisfied my expectations.

If you love old-fashion movie-making styles, gunslingers, and likeable characters, then The Magnificent Seven is the right movie for you to see this fall season.

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