The Magnificent Seven kicks off shortly after the American Civil War when a mining baron (played by Peter Sarsgaard) violently threatens to take a town’s land and displace the townsfolk in order to carry out his villainous enterprise. A brave member of the town, who happens to be a strong woman, enlists the help of a bounty hunter, a gambler, a tracker, a sharpshooter, an assassin, a Mexican outlaw, and a Comanche warrior to defend their town. As simplistic as the plot comes across on paper The Magnificent Seven proved to be a very entertaining and engaging film.
Part of what makes The Magnificent Seven so enthralling is that it is incredibly well acted by a brilliant cast. Denzel Washington gave a very impressionable and commanding performance for his first Western — as to be expected — which was rounded out beautifully by the talent around him. Chris Pratt, also making his first foray into a Western-based cinema was also a welcome addition to the cast with his charming style of underscoring a scene.
As a film that revolves around a merry band of seven mavericks it is worth noting that the rest of The Magnificent Seven‘s cast is just as sharp as the leading Washington and Pratt. Fifteen years after Antoine Fuqua’s award winning Training Day, it was a welcome sight to see both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke on screen together again in another of Fuqua’s films — as their acting chemistry still jumps off the screen to pull the viewer in. Washington’s and Hawke’s scenes were some of the most empathetic ones. Probably one of the more standout roles was by none other than Vincent D’Onofrio who played a wiley old tracker who stole the majority of scenes when the seven were together, with Byung-hun Lee’s assassin character coming in at a close second.
With an ensemble cast and simplistic plot, The Magnificent Seven‘s characters were left to do much of the heavy lifting in order to keep the film from growing stale. While the film was far from ever becoming stale, most — if not all — of the film’s shortcomings stem from some characters not being allowed to share in carrying the load. Unfortunately, some of the characters fell short of being developed — to the point where one might believe that some scenes may have been left on the cutting room floor for sake of the film’s runtime. Which truly is a pity as this film was so well-crafted it would’ve been nice for it to have been “complete.”
Fuqua did a very good job in keeping this film entertaining and beautiful to look at with some amazing and colorful cinematography and action scenes. While the action and violence never became as over-the-top and borderline barbaric as Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen, it still managed to maintain the same level of intensity in the adrenaline fueled sections of the film. You as the viewer can’t help but to be drawn into Fuqua’s vision of the Wild West and feel for the characters he introduces to you and those he wants you to despise.
A review of this film can’t be without mention that The Magnificent Seven is a remake of a remake. Fuqua’s film had some pretty big shoes to fill in order to keep today’s audience entertained by the timeless heroic fable made famous in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, and it succeeded. The Magnificent Seven is a great film to bookend the summer block of blockbusters and usher in the fall’s slate of promising cinema.
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