Friday, September 23, 2016

The Magnificent Seven review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: *** out of 4
(From left to right) Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Vincent D’onofrio, Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, Ethan Hawke, Byung-Hun Lee, and Martin Sensmeier are The Magnificent Seven

            Who would have thought the director of Training Day had a thing for westerns? Director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer, Southpaw) joins forces with Denzel Washington (Training Day, Unstoppable, The Equalizer) once again to bring a remake of the 1960 western classic, The Magnificent Seven.
            Buy your pistols and nooses here because you’re going to need them after I say this, I (unfortunately) have never seen the original film prior to watching this, and now I feel guilty about admitting it. But as a stand-alone western movie, it’s a ton of fun, despite the movie hitting a lot of familiar territory if you’ve seen westerns before.
            What propels a western remake that could have been dead on arrival to a fun experience? 2 people, Denzel Washington and everyone’s favorite actor of the 2010s, Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) together in a movie.
            No shocker there, that alone is what sold me when this movie was being promoted, I’ve already seen Denzel Washington in several movies over the years including but not limited to, Training Day, Remember the Titans, Unstoppable, and Bait. And of course, Chris Pratt from three recent movies that I talked endlessly about, The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Jurassic World, put them together, sounds like a match made in heaven, and thankfully it is.
            Set in the 1870s following the Civil War in the town of Rose Creek, a ruthless industrialist named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard-Dead Man Walking, Pawn Sacrifice, Black Mass) has put the town under his control. Fed up with everyone’s miserable lives as well as the starving women and children, the desperate townspeople led by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett-Music and Lyrics, The Equalizer, Hardcore Henry) calls the help of a bounty hunter known as Sam Chisolm (Washington) and his crew, gambler with an explosion fetish, Josh Farraday (Pratt), sharpshooter, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke-Before trilogy, Training Day, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead), tracker, Jack Horne (Vincent D’onofrio-Ed Wood, Men in Black, Jurassic World), assassin, Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee-G.I. Joe, RED 2, Terminator: Genisys), Mexican outlaw, Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo-One for the Road, From Dusk till Dawn: The Series, Term Life), and Comanche warrior, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier-Salem, Westworld) to protect them while they prepare for battle with Bogue.
            However, upon meeting the townspeople the Seven realize they might be fighting for something more important than money. The Seven make it their mission to put an end to Bogue’s control and save the town.
            Overall, The Magnificent Seven captures pretty much everything that makes a western enjoyable, gun-toting action, sweeping shots of the old west, and the traditional western style soundtrack composed by the late great composer, James Horner with his final score. Yes, the movie is released in large film formats like IMAX but if you’re lucky enough to have a Cinerama theater nearby, I strongly encourage watching the movie there, you literally feel like you’ve gone back in time from the 2010s to the 1960s when Cinerama theaters were famous for showing classic westerns like How the West Was Won and A Fistful of Dollars.
            But even if you take large format out of the equation, it’s still a good movie on its own, Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are undeniably charming and likable together and they do spend plenty of screen-time with each other, in my opinion one of the best team-ups ever. Aside from Washington and Pratt, the rest of the cast is also very good, Vincent D’onofrio gets a decent laugh once in a while and a very different performance to me personally because I’m so used to seeing him play the bad guys in films such as Men in Black and Jurassic World.
            Byung-Hun Lee and Martin Sensmeier are total badasses, you got a cowboy assassin who fights with knives and a Comanche warrior who fights with a bow and arrow, how are they not awesome? Most of the cast is very solid but I personally couldn’t get into Bogue as a villain, not to say Sarsgaard was terrible or anything, but I just found him to be too generic and not all that threatening, perhaps someone more menacing looking would have been better but whatever it’s just a nitpick.
            I don’t consider it to be as strong of a western as A Fistful of Dollars, How the West Was Won, and even more recent western films like True Grit, Django Unchained, or The Hateful Eight. The film relies a lot on old western movie clichés we’ve seen a million times before, I would have liked to see new ways to tell a western story as a movie, but as is, it’s a generic western with a ton of star power.
            Now I really want to check out the original 1960 film and see how it holds up compared to this new movie. Thanks to the movie being released in large formats, it made me appreciate the western genre even more and like I said, it felt like I went back in time to the 60s when classic westerns ruled the giant screens.

            It’s loud, it’s crazy, it’s fun, what’s not to enjoy, grab six of your best pals and check it out.

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