<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Antoine Fuqua. Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Luke Grimes, Lee Byung-hun, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Cam Gigandet, Matt Bomer
Running Time: 2 hours 13 minutes
I’ve been through the whole ‘we should stop watching remakes speech’ when I reviewed the atrocious Ben-Hur (2016) reboot. While some great actors and relatively good dialogue save the new The Magnificent Seven, it fails to compare with the original and neither does it become a film that will lend itself to repeat viewings.
The original film (1960) by John Sturges that was ‘inspired’ by Kurosawa’s The Seven Samurai (1954) has been suitably altered and updated with new characters and motivations for this band of merry men to save a town besieged by a megalomaniac who wants to take all the land he can get with brute force.
Hollywood has very few bankable stars left nowadays. Apart from say Tom Cruise and Tom Hanks, you have Denzel Washington. Even so-so films like The Equalizer and Pelham 123 were made much more watchable by his presence. He isn’t great in The Magnificent Seven but he manages to pull together the film and its diverse characters by not being too overbearing. There’s a subtlety in his strength.
His ‘duly sworn warrant officer’ Chisolm is hired by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) whose husband (Matt Bomer, who makes good use of his 10 minute role) and town were taken from her by the depraved Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) in his hunt for more gold. But Chisolm has to find some back up, which he does: Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Byung-hun Lee make up his posse. The lovely and feisty Cullen plays sidekick to the group.
The first part is all about the recruiting, the middle half is about them taking back the town and the finale is their plan to protect the town from the evil Bogue, hell bent on reclaiming his spoils. It all follows a formula and if it weren’t for some pleasant interactions between the characters you’d be twiddling your thumbs for the end. Sure there are plenty of nods to the old Westerns like the ‘draws’ and ‘camp fires’ and ‘Red Indians’. Fans of nostalgia will certainly like The Magnificent Seven, but is there enough in it to make it a classic in its own right? Sadly partner, the answer is no.
In spite of such a long running time you barely get to know all of the characters to say nothing about their back stories. Chris Pratt and D’Onofrio provide some comic and some touching moments. But the end sequence is just a long, drawn out shoot-em-up by the numbers battle where you are more concerned about whether they hurt the horses than who is being killed. I’d like to have seen Haley Bennett kick some more ass, that’s for sure.
As it is, this remake rests comfortably on the shelf of average reboots of classic films that will never get to sit next to their original big daddies.