The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the 1960 western, action film of the same name, is a modern day re-imagination of the seemingly dying western genre. Starring Hollywood hotshots such as Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard and Ethan Hawke, this film, directed by Antoine Fuqua, seeks to reignite an interest in cowboys and appeal to modern day audiences.
The film takes place in the 1870’s, shortly after the end of the American Civil War, and focuses on the small town of Rose Krick, which has come under siege by the cruel and ruthless industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Having had enough of Bogue’s reign of terror over their homes, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennet) and Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) enlist the help of bad-ass warrant officer, Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), to drive Bogue and his men out of Rose Krick. Accepting the arduous task, Chisholm rounds up a group of the finest cowboys to assist him in his crusade, including the smooth talker, Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), sharp shooter, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), quick draw, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), roguish, Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), wild-man, Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and native American, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier).
The Magnificent Seven is everything one would expect of a western film, with dashingly heroic cowboys, brilliant and skilled gun fights, witty humour, a dastardly evil villain, a high spirited soundtrack and a beautifully serene outback setting. However, this present day remake does away with traditional film tropes and cliches, which results in a refreshing and seemingly original take on a rather outdated and often mundane genre.
Whilst filled with action sequences and wicked gun slinging to delight audiences, The Magnificent Seven entertained more in terms of the bond and the kinship the seven cowboys developed amongst themselves as well as with the townspeople of Rose Krick. Character development within the film was exceptional, with audiences being given the opportunity to watch each character grow from being lone cowboys to becoming a crucial member of the team. The relationship each character had with one another and the character development added a sense of realism to the film that audiences could certainly identify with, such as the friendship between Chisholm and Robicheaux and the post traumatic stress Robicheaux suffered from due to the Civil War. In terms of character and personality, I found Vincent D’Onofrio’s portrayal of Jack Horne to be interesting mostly due to the fact that I’ve become accustomed to seeing him play the role of villains in the past. His role in this film as the God fearing wild man with a slightly unusual high pitch voice was brilliant.
There were many other aspects of character that were rather unusual, which led to my personal enjoyment of the film, such as Haley Bennet’s character, Emma Cullen, who remained a strong female character throughout the entire film, going so far as to joining the men in the fight against Bogue. Typically, in most films of this kind, the female in the story would act as a damsel in distress, needing to be saved by the rough and tough cowboy, who would eventually sweep her off her feet. In The Magnificent Seven, Bennett’s character is in no way a damsel in distress and held her own, even against the advances of men.
Having a strong female character was not the only way in which this film showed off the prowess of minority groups. Having a cast made up of several ethnic and minority groups, playing key roles in the film, illustrated just how much the world has changed from the 1960’s and how open Hollywood is in terms of their casting choices. Seeing this identified in the film certainly made an impact and led to an increase in my personal enjoyment of the film. Who, after all, wouldn’t love seeing a cowboy with ninja skills?
The pacing and the way in which the plot was developed made for a viewing experience that captivated throughout the duration of the film. I particularly enjoyed the suspense and build up toward the final showdown between the seven and Bogue. Together with the use of a variety of film and visual techniques, the final showdown was a visual masterpiece (in my opinion anyway) and made for one wildly exciting moment in the film. Of course, the effect of each scene in the film was heightened by the incredibly high spirited, typical western soundtrack, that seemed to spur the cowboys into action.
Having seen my fair share of westerns and not being much of a fan of the genre at all, I was incredibly surprised to have enjoyed The Magnificent Seven as much as I did. With great action, excellent character and plot development, fantastic visuals, a great soundtrack and of course, Chris Pratt, there’s not much to not love about this film. If you’re looking for a film that’s fun, enjoyable and one which will get you excited about cowboys, The Magnificent Seven is the film to watch.
*For more pop culture and anime rantings and reviews, check out my blog, The Vanguard.
Released: September 2016
Genre: Action, Western
Running Time: 133 minutes
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures