REVIEW: Not A Western Classic, But “Magnificent Seven” Is A Fun Shoot ’Em Up

It’s a “Training Day” reunion in this western remake, with Director Antoine Fuqua teaming up with Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke once again.

This edition of “The Magnificent Seven” follows the same formula as the 1960 picture as well as the 1954 movie “Seven Samurai.” Denzel Washington plays a lawman named Chisolm who’s convinced to help a small town that’s being terrorized by a mine owner. To help him hold off the nefarious Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), Chisolm recruits six other gunfighters and western frontiersmen to join the battle.

The movie goes on to explore the ragtag group of outlaws meeting up, helping the town prepare for the upcoming combat and learning to work together for the single cause.

First things first, this “Magnificent Seven” isn’t as good as either the original flick or “Seven Samurai.” It also isn’t on the level of some other westerns such as “Tombstone.” The movie simply lacks a bit in terms of its depth, for example, Hawke’s character Goodnight Robicheaux had an interesting backstory that wasn’t fully explored.

For the most part, the new “Seven” plays it by the books, there’s the recruiting in the first act, the preparation in the second act and the shootout in the third act. While it is formulaic, though, the execution from Fuqua and the acting from the cast make for a well executed picture overall.

The film has some fun moments as the seven are getting to know each other, there’s a great sequence in the movie’s middle where they get to show off their skills for the first time and the final battle is epic enough to see on the big screen. While not as memorable as others, the 2016 “Magnificent Seven” is still a fun western-action flick.

Part of the reason for this was the acting from a lot of the performers. Washington, for example, plays the wandering stoic type who’s out serving warrants. Similar to his performance in “The Book of Eli,” Washington plays Chisolm as a cold western warrior who still has a good heart while maintaining his thousand yard stare.

Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio also put a lot of great work into their performances, with both giving their characters unique and memorable personalities. Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier were also solid in the movie, despite having less screen time than some of the other characters.

A bit hit or miss, though, was Chris Pratt, who didn’t seem to strike the right sort of balance in his performance between being a guy who will fight for the right cause while still being a ruthless outlaw. Unlike, Val Kilmer’s performance as Doc Holiday in “Tombstone” for example, Pratt just seems to go into the role a bit too playfully.

That’s not to say he was bad in the film, in fact his charisma and charm wins a person over as the movie goes on. However, his character could have used a bit more of a dark side, too, and it just didn’t come out enough.

The movie also benefits from having all the actors work together very well, as there’s both a sense of camaraderie and chemistry between the cast that comes off the screen from start to finish. The tense relationships with some and the more friendly relationships with others between the seven is convincing and make the battle scenes that much more engaging.

Speaking of the battle scenes, they are worth seeing on the big screen with good sound. From an opening skirmish in the second act to the all out assault in the finale, the action is fast paced, showcases a number of different fighting/shooting styles and is shot in a way where a person can tell what’s going on at every moment.

Put everything together and “The Magnificent Seven” is plenty of fun at the theater. Sure, it doesn’t reach some of the other heights that westerns have before, but the movie is exciting, the acting is solid for the most part and the action is great visually. High 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s