The newest remake of Seven Samurai, is here with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke all leading the charge against injustice.
A few years ago someone told me that there would never be another great American Western, I wish I could remember who that was, because I need to find them and tell them that they were wrong. Here Antoine Fuqua takes the story of Seven men who are hired by a village to bring down an evil Mining magnate and gives it a retelling in the best possible way that he can. He understands the characters, makes sure that we care about them as he develops their past stories into reasons for joining this suicide mission.
The Mexican bandits from the original Western version of the film have been removed to give us the evil of our day, a capitalist, who wants to buy the land of a town next to where he’s mining so that he doesn’t have to listen to them moan about the poisoning of the water and land. After he massacres a fair few of the towns people, one plucky widow goes out and gets the Magnificent seven. They are a group of different gunslingers, and warriors, that all need to redeem themselves through combat. They travel through the wild west to face down the evil and maybe become better men. Denzel stars as Chisom who is a sworn Warrant Officer that takes up the challenge for his own reasons. Chris Pratt stars as a gambler with a serious drinking problem and he joins the team to get his horse back. Ethan Hawke is a former army officer and sharpshooter, Vincent D’Onofrio a frontiers man who is lead by his faith. Byung-hun Lee Plays the Asian companion of Hawke’s character. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is a Mexican bandit who joins the group in order to stop Denzel hunting him, and then we have Martin Sensmeier who plays the Comanche Indian Red Harvest who is a loner from his tribe. The Plucky widow is played by Haley Bennett, her performance is fine and everything it’s just that she must be the only woman in this film that has low cut tops.
This is a great American Western. The homage to the classic western and even the great Kurosawa film is clear along the way. What you get is an amazingly entertaining film that knows how to push the characters in the right direction that they need to go.
My one complaint here is that the villain is a little, tiny bit, just a smidge, of a one dimensional character. Peter Sarsgaard plays Bogue, the capitalist, who should have been better examined through the film. It’s almost like he’s a cardboard cut out of a villain that could have been more. His deep capitalist nature had the potential for him to be a more sinister Donald Trump type character. This man can act the socks off everyone around him and yet when they make him a villain he’s nothing more than a string of cliché ridden moments through the film. But lets be clear, when it comes to cliché moments, Sarsgaard gives the best cliché moments your cinema ticket can buy.
The cinematography is just beautiful and the updated score aims to try get close to the Magnificent Seven’s original score, it doesn’t succeed but that was a tall order. D’Onofrio’s character steals the scenes that he’s in, and Vincent is turning into the best character actor that money can buy now.
The film is over the two hour mark and I overheard some people telling me that it was too long, but for this reviewer, and it’s only my opinion that counts, the film moves along in such a way that you are never kept waiting for something to happen. Too many films over the two hour mark seem to waste shots and sequences to run up the clock. This is film making at it’s best. You feel Fuqua is telling the audience to sit back and relax, that he’s not going to let this film waste your time. There is action, comedy, adventure, amazing performances, drama, and tearful moments when heroes fall. I ask you… what more do you want? You want your head examined if you pass up seeing this glorious western on the big screen. Go see it in a cinema! It’s pure cinema!
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Writers: Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Richard Wenk, Hideo Oguni, Nic Pizzolatto
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo
“The Magnificent Seven” opens today.