Just recently I was told that the 1960’s Magnificent Seven directed by John Sturges was my grandfather’s favourite film. I believe if he were alive today to see Antoine Fuqua’s remake he would have liked it regardless of the general overall opinion of the cinema-goer and critics alike. It seems then that me and my grandfather would have shared similar taste.
I have always said that the western genre was very neglected, you could see this by the number of children who had stopped playing Cowboys and Indians in the neighborhood, but what Antione Fuqua has presented us with is a western that isn’t too slow paced yet would make a good excuse for grandparents to bring their grand kids to the cinema to see something which they can both enjoy.
There is never a dull moment in this remake all down to it’s incredible casting. If you’re going to use a name like The Magnificent Seven, they had better be magnificent, and they were each one of them, with Denzel Washington’s performance as Chisolm one step ahead of the other actors and actress’. His earlier films have already set up Denzel Washington as a Hollywood bad ass, now he gets to bring his brutal character portrayal over to a western which is genius casting. In fact, all of the magnificent seven played their characters well. I was a bit sceptical with the casting of Chris Pratt as Josh Faraday just to bring some star power to this film, but his character was a cool, funny character without losing his action star ability.
It becomes clear that Fuqua has done his research into western films as the audience will be able to identify a number of classic western sequences from the Mexican standoff which was handled with the right setup and buildup just as well as any old Clint Eastwood western and appealing landscape shots with fantastic natural lighting. Lighting is something that many film critics tend to forget about when reviewing film and praise has to go to the lighting department for their excellent work at providing well-lit scene’s. You will be able to see every face in a large crowd, the dust particles through gaps in wooden buildings all of which make the tension even stronger.
The story leads to a final climatic battle without spoiling too much, and you think with the standard editing of the scenes leading towards the opening of the scene will stay put. However, Fuqua and editor John Refoua had other ideas by fading in to each of the seven, cutting to black timed with the sound of the town bell which is a simple but very effective way of building up to the inevitable showdown.
It was difficult to nitpick at this film as the story’s presentation will have fully engulfed your interest, yet there was moment where it was distracting. It took a while to understand the seriousness behind Jack Horne (played by Vincent D’Onofrio) because of the tone of voice he chooses to deliver his dialogue, but when you start to see the character in action, only then will you understand how unbalanced the character’s brutality is.
I wish that the film had spent more time with the villain Bart Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). During the opening minutes of the film, he appears to be a very evil character with no regard for the well being of the people living in Rose Creak. However, after the introduction a huge chunk of his character’s screen time is taken out which could have been spent learning about what made him who he is. By doing this his character now teeters between a borderline unique antagonist and rinse and repeat typical Hollywood villain.
For anyone paying attention to the seven’s plan of the final showdown you may start to notice that it mimics the same plan used in the bridge defence scene from Saving Private Ryan. I did think to myself that I had seen this plan before, it wasn’t until the final showdown that I started to remember the bottleneck tactic and use of explosives in the bridge defence scene.
Despite all the negatives about this film, the positives massively outweigh it as The Magnificent Seven is well… magnificent. The best way I could describe it is that it was the summer blockbuster that should have come earlier. The amount of action along with some witty bad ass cowboys is what this summer really needed. I can only hope that my grandfather was watching from heaven and enjoyed it.
Final Result: 8/10 – Very Good
Have you seen The Magnificent Seven? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below
Next Time: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children