Fuqua’s Western is entertaining but still misses the mark.
It’s an average day in Rose Creek. Deliveries are being made, people are getting on with their business. Then, a church service is interrupted, by a mysterious figure called Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). After declaring their town to be ‘standing in the way of God’ (really he’s just a Capitalist wanting their mine), he kills various residents and sets fire to the church. From here, it’s a mostly predictable revenge tale.
Now widowed Rose Creek resident Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) seeks out help from glorified bounty hunter Chisolm (Denzel Washington), and assembles a team to take the town back.
This modern update of both the 1960 Western classic and Seven Samurai brings with it a fantastic cast which make up the team. Denzel Washington’s Chisolm is immediately cool, waltzing around with his quick fire hands and undeniable charisma. Director Antoine Fuqua knows how to utilise Washington perfectly, as we’ve previously seen in The Equalizer and Training Day.
By Chisolm’s side is Faraday, played by Chris Pratt. He plays a very cheeky, happy-go-lucky character, who gets a lot of screen time as you’d expect. Whilst it isn’t the most memorable performance, it’s clear he had fun which makes it all the more enjoyable to watch.
The other members of the team aren’t at fault either, each putting in a respectable shift. There’s PTSD-struck Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo. Their chemistry is believable enough to keep you smiling, but it’s nothing compared to Yul Brynner’s crew.
Sarsgaard is near unrecognisable initially, but on the whole his character makes for a respectable villain. At times sinister and cold, at others a bit silly, it’s the perfect fit for a fun couple of hours at the cinema.
Whilst the star power makes the whole ride entertaining, there isn’t enough time spent digging deeper into the characters back stories to make us actually care about them rather than simply enjoy their presence. D’Onfrio’s character in particular deserved more explaining, but it has to be said he kept me laughing in any scene he’s in.
Two thirds of the film lead up an overly lengthy final showdown, which albeit is well choreographed and shot, quickly feels repetitive and suppressed. This could be down to its 12A rating, which keeps the splatter-gore of Django Unchained away. In a storm of bullets, there is next-to-no blood to be seen.
Fuqua’s skills as a director still cannot be questioned – his enthusiasm is evident throughout The Magnificent Seven, whether it is calmer, intricate shots or the hectic, action packed scenes. However, whilst he has tried to capture the spirit of Western classics, it feels more like a summer blockbuster than anything else.
To sum it up…
To say The Magnificent Seven is a bad film would be unfair. It may not be the return of the Western people perhaps wanted, but it’s definitely entertaining. Big, loud and action packed with a terrific cast and talented director, just ruined by its predictability and lack of impact.
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Author: Cameron Frew