Western fanatics high and low, point your ears this way, spit out your chewing tobacco and journey to the cinema. For The Magnificent Seven finally delivers a western which is worth seeing on the big screen!
Once upon a time, there were a Magnificent Seven…
A true movie aficionado has seen film master Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai at least once.
The story of seven rōnin (wandering samurai) risking their lives to save a small village from a gang of bandits went into history as one of the most compelling movies in its genre.
Six years later, Hollywood made a remake, but this time with cowboys and gold seekers. Afterwards, the story was given a new look and saw the light of day as a series and on video.
2016 was deemed the right time for a remake. Every sane movie buff probably shudders at hearing that word, and with reason. The number of good new versions of old classics can be counted on approximately one hand. However, in this case you can rest easily. The Magnificent Seven excels in many aspects and is a very potent blockbuster. We didn’t expect less from director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day), after all.
The Good, the Bad and the Handsome
There is barely any deviation from the old story.
In The Magnificent Seven, we see how the small village of Rose Creek, which mainly consists of farmers, is put under pressure by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), a powerful magnate. This classic movie villain hungers for the riches in the ground and, using force, blackmails the inhabitants to give up the deeds of their land for not even a third of its value. Bogue gives the poor farmers three weeks before he returns and while he is at it, lights the local church on fire as he leaves.
Villager Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) sees her husband being shot before her very eyes and longs for revenge. When officer Chisolm (Denzel Washington) passes through the tormented Rose Creek looking for scum, the brave woman sees her opportunity and asks him to help the villagers. Chisolm decides to agree to her proposition and searches for a group of sharpshooters to help the village.
The collection of snipers in this movie are a motley crew. Apart from Denzel Washington, we see Byung-hun Lee as a deadly knife-thrower. Next there is Martin Sensmeier as the native Red Harvest, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as the insightful fugitive Mexican while Vincent D’Onofrio and his Italian heritage sometimes procures a speck of comedy. Although sometimes, the characters are walking cliches, such as the rather pathetic and sneaky skirt chaser Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), they each have their own voice and personality.
Goodnight Robichaux (Ethan Hawke) is haunted by hallucinations, trapper Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) searches for meaning in his life and main character Chisolm (Washington) hides a past which holds a very personal reason why he is participating in this fight.
Compelling from start to finish
As said before, The Magnificent Seven does not escape cliches, but it also doesn’t depend on them. We are confronted with saloon battles, undertakers, a corrupt sheriff, a panning shot with a noose and long twisting shots where threatening music drones throughout the movie theater atmospherically. You name the trope, this movie has got it.
At the same time, there is room for a crafty, self-aware wink, for example when Goodnight Robichaux notices that they really are a motley crew, almost breaking the fourth wall in doing so. There is also a believable balance between humor and action, without resorting to extremes.
The Magnificent Seven succeeds where others fail: the movie finds its own identity and holds onto it, from the mood-setting opening until the sorrowful ending. The acting is consistent and there are both atmospheric wide shots as well as sharply coordinated action scenes. Also present is variation between the clear, colorful images of the day and the murkier saloon and night time shots. No interiors illuminated by spotlight here.
No, every scene feels natural and makes you enjoy what is happening on the screen.
The sound also deserves an honorable mention. Feeling the shaking of the thundering of a thousand horse hooves and the bangs of gunshots from all sides passing through you, really helps being immersion in the movie. On top of this visual and auditory feast, there is also the very strong soundtrack by Simon Frangler (Titanic, Skyfall) and James Horner (Titanic, Braveheart). The sum of all these parts deliver an extremely competent and wonderful action flick which mixes perfectly with the big screen.
The Magnificent Seven will be in theaters on the 28th of September.
The Magnificent Seven succeeds where others have failed. The excellent montage contributes to a movie where heavy and vivacious action are being alternated with beautiful atmospheric shots of the Wild West. A strong soundtrack completes the picture. Excellent blockuster!