Never been much of a western movie fan. Something about the exploration of the old west that just never appealed to me. Maybe it’s the melanin in me, LOL. But every once in a while, a film will come along in a genre that you don’t normally find exciting and it will make you wonder why you never enjoyed movies like these. Films like “Unforgiven” cause me to want to love westerns because of their sheer excellence. And so now, can THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN remake also incite such feeling?
Offered with all of the trappings of a blockbuster film, the “Magnificent Seven” has all the glamour and splendor that comes with big budget movies, yet it does so without sacrificing the basic story from the original.
The original “Magnificent Seven” is considered a masterpiece, inspired by and derived from the landmark Japanese classic “Seven Samurai” – a story which leans upon an age-old narrative about the good Samaritan – or in this case seven who come to the rescue.
As a community falls under the whim of an evil landlord hell-bent on destroying a village for personal gain, seven strangers are magically brought together to fight for people to whom they have no connection – just because it’s the right thing to do, even if it costs them their lives.
Undertaking the task of re-imagining a classic property from such iconic material while enlisting the talents of big name movie stars screams of a studio cash grab, or at the very least a weak adaptation or re-telling, but for this movie that is not the case.
This “Magnificent Seven” is a wonderfully entertaining, delightfully acted, and expertly directed film, as a further imagining of the original source material. Antoine Fuqua continues to adroitly bring powerful realism to the silver screen with his story telling and cinematic images. MGM/Columbia Pictures provided Fuqua with the budget to brilliantly showcase the beauty of the old west with impressive and, dare I say ‘magnificent,’ establishing shots.
But this movie leans upon the greatness of Denzel Washington. His acting acumen is on full display as he commands the camera and the story. Fuqua has been able to turn Washington into more than a master thespian but also a bona fide action star (Training Day, The Equalizer) without donning a superhero cape. Denzel’s expertise allows the viewer to forget race/racism of the old west and believe that one man’s conviction can make the difference.
Thankfully this film doesn’t rely upon one man as Chris Pratt offers his rugged, comedic leading man presence to balance this tale. Pratt continues to forge his place among the best actors working, exhibiting a certain coolness to his persona that is infectious and charming. Washington and Pratt are a stellar pairing that will make you forget any flaws in the film.
But it is Vincent D’Onofrio who disappears in his role and steals the show with his portrayal. D’Onofrio brings character to the movie without being over the top, or taking you out of the story. You almost want a prequel just based upon his character.
Peter Sarsgaard is credible as the bad guy, and he is aided by the story that draws upon and props up religious themes and concepts as a crutch, as an omnipresent type villain to justify good masking as evil.
In the end, and as the movie declares, they were ‘magnificent.’ The film hits all the marks for an action movie, with a predictable final standoff/battle that has me remembering the movie the “Three Amigos.”
The “Magnificent Seven” is fun ride through the desert and has us traveling the terrains looking for justice. On its own merit, it doesn’t do a disservice to the original material and continues the western movie genre’s resurgence – leaving us fully satisfied and ultimately inspiring us to attach our spurs, jump on our hearty steed, and ride off into the sunset.
Darryl King is a video director, film writer and avid Marvel/DC comic book/movie lover. In addition to his popular comic book movie reviews, you can check out his reviews of Sausage Party and Jason Bourne right here on MMT.