Believe it or not, “The Magnificent Seven,” is a remake of a remake. In 1954, master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa graced many around the world with his three-hour Japanese historical epic, “Seven Samurai.” It not only influenced many filmmakers at the time, but it also inspired numerous films since its release 62 years ago. One particular film was an American-Western take on the story in 1960 called “The Magnificent Seven.” It starred iconic actors Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. It’s the second most shown film in television history behind “The Wizard of Oz.”
Three sequels were produced, as was a television series starring Ron Perlman that ran from 1998-2000. They didn’t obtain the same level of success the film received. So, 56 years after the original American film and 62 after the Japanese spectacle, we have a new modern take on this iconic story of seven men destined to save a town from an army of bad guys.
In this adaptation, robber Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his army of henchmen ride into a town and execute a brutal takeover. After losing her husband to Bogue’s reign, farmer Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) hires bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to help restore order and her community. In a series of events, Chisolm rounds out a group of gunslingers to form “The Magnificent Seven.” It’s a story that we’ve seen in many Westerns, and this film does not take any risks.
I had a fantastic time watching this film, as I was blown away by how good it was. I’ve always liked the director Antoine Fuqua — he’s extremely versatile with films like the crime thriller “Training Day” or the boxing drama “Southpaw.” He makes great choices with this as he develops every member of the team and non-members, including Emma and Bogue. The action is also spread out and not extremely excessive, which is something that most “popcorn flicks” lack.
There are only two action sequences and they are some of the best I’ve seen in years. They are fast-paced, well-directed and very unpredictable. This leaves the viewer on the edge of their seat. The cast is perfect together. Washington is fantastic as Chilsom, which isn’t surprising since Washington is a two-time Oscar-winner. If you know Chris Pratt, then you know he will have his Chris Pratt-isms in any role of his and was quite good as gambler Josh Farraday.
My favorite performance was from Ethan Hawke as sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux, whose backstory was fascinating as he is questioning whether or not he should be a part of someone else’s fight. It was also great seeing him and Washington work together in a Fuqua-directed film again after “Training Day,” which is one of my all-time favorite films. Vincent D’Onofrio definitely deserves a mention; he was the funniest as the high-pitched tracker Jack Horne. The rest of the cast was fine, but no one stuck out like a sore thumb.
I personally would have liked to see more of Sarsgaard’s Bogue, as he kicked off the stellar opening scene and did not reappear until the climax of the film. He was slimy and disgusting, which Sarsgaard more-than brings to his villainous roles. If I had to find any other flaws with the film, it’s that I thought it ran a little too long, despite how much I enjoyed it.
Other than that, I nearly loved this film as it’s a nice homage to Westerns and the source material. If you’re looking for a nice summer-like flick to see, especially after the vast disappointing season that was, then go check this out.