After taking on a number of successful action flicks in recent years such as: ‘Training Day,’ ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ and ‘The Equalizer,’ director Antonie Fuqua brings this remake of the original 1960s ensemble western to the silver screen. Combining a superb cast with some explosive moments of action and plenty of highly detailed costumes and sets, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ manages to remain an entertaining remake of the beloved western classic despite its few faults.
Plot Summary: In 1897, seven gunmen from a variety of different backgrounds are brought together by a vengeful young widow in an attempt to protect her hometown of: ‘Rose Creek’ from the private army of the destructive industrialist: ‘Bartholomew Bogue.’
Other than a few changes to the names of its characters, the remake of: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ follows a very similar storyline to the original film, which was essentially just a retelling of the iconic Japenese drama: ‘Seven Samurai’ but now set in the Wild West. As the remake avoids making any definite changes to the narrative in favour of simply just updating the story for a more modern audience, meaning the film has much faster-pacing and more of a focus on creating thrilling action set-pieces than the original, which is both a good and a bad thing, as whilst the film does still pay homage to many classic westerns, the film occasionally also adopts many of the issues that plague plenty of modern blockbusters today, the most notable of which being the film’s overabundance of cheesy and predictable dialogue.
Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawk, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier all give splendid performances as the line-up of: ‘The Seven,’ each portraying a different personality and skillset between them. But, of course, similar to many other films lead by a group of characters rather than just a single protagonist. ‘The Magnificent Seven’ suffers from a lack of equal development for its cast as a result of Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt as ‘Chisolm’ and ‘Josh Faraday’ hogging most of the screen-time, with the film’s antagonist: ‘Bartholomew Bogue’ portrayed by Peter Sarsgaard, also having a deficient intimidating presence when on-screen due to this.
Whilst the film’s cinematography never falls into the category of being exceedingly bland, the cinematography by Mauro Fiore is only above-average, as although the film does feature an array of attractive close-ups and wide-shots alongside its many suitably barren locations, the film also has quite a heavy over-reliance on shot-reverse-shot for the many conversations between characters. However, a smaller detail that I felt added to the film’s visual appeal (and realism) is definitely its use of nature surrounding/within its various locations, as the film’s main setting of: ‘Rose Creek’ is littered with trees and tall grass rather than just continuous desert similar to many other westerns, with some areas of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where filming took place, even having to be relandscaped to further resemble the Old West.
Being the last film composer James Horner contributed towards before he sadly passed away in an accident in 2015, the original score by him and Simon Franglen does suitably feel like the score of a traditional western for the majority of the film’s runtime. Although there are still a few tracks that feel fairly generic, the soundtrack redeems itself through the great tracks: ‘Rose Creek Oppression’ and ‘Seven Riders,’ in addition to also bringing back the original film’s theme composed by the late Elmer Bernstein for its end credits.
As the remake of: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ focuses more on action over anything else (with the entire final act of the film essentially being one long action sequence) a lot of pressure lies on the film to live-up to this intent, which thankfully, it does, as all of the stirring moments throughout the story make fantastic use of their impressive stunt work and subtle CG effects. That being said, nearly all of the action scenes are also distinctly missing an element of both grittiness and violence, which can be fairly distracting. As despite many of: ‘Bartholomew Bogue’s guns-for-hire being shot, stabbed and blown-up, blood is barely ever seen, and whilst I understand classic westerns also didn’t really revel in violence, I’ve always seen that as more of a restriction of the time-period rather than just a skimp to lower the film’s age-rating.
In conclusion, while ‘The Magnificent Seven’ may not fully deliver on the ‘Magnificent’ part of its title, the film is still is an enjoyable throwback to the westerns of old with plenty of exhilarating action set-pieces to-boot. As even when taking into account all of the remake’s issues and general lack of memorability, I’d still say the film is on the better side of reimagined classics in recent memory and is worth a watch if you’re a true western enthusiast or perhaps just desire to see a remake that doesn’t attempt to simply recreate the original shot-for-shot. Final Rating: 7/10.