It’s a format nearly as old as cinema itself. A feared hero assembles an unlikely gang to pull off an impossible feat. The group shouldn’t work, and they shouldn’t pull of the feat, but of course only this disparate bunch could do it. In Antoine Fuqua’s shoot ’em up, action-packed remake of The Magnificent Seven, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) is that hero.
The mission? Take back a victimized town from a murderous robber baron (Peter Sarsgaard) with nearly unlimited resources and what amounts to an army at his back. For this suicide mission, the town is willing to pay everything they have, but it’s still not a job for most men. Enter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rufio) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
We watch as this crew is assembled and challenged, and of course as they set out to do the job that needs done. All of this is enhanced by a soaring score and a host of solid performances (particularly from Washington, it’s wonderful to have him back, and Pratt, who is as charming as ever) from an ensemble that matches the quality of the 1960 version.
The Magnificent Seven retains the sensibilities of a Western from that era. The upgrades come in the production value. Everything is richly detailed and smoothly executed. It’s not likely that devotees of the original film will find something even better here, but nor should they walk out shaking their heads and better yet, there’s plenty here for non-genre fans as well. Viewers are well advised to buckle up and enjoy this surprisingly light-hearted trip to the Old West.
The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writer: Akira Kurosawa (story based on the screenplay by), Richard Wenk (Screenplay), Nic Pizzolatto (Screenplay)
Runtime: 2h 12mins