BY RYAN MACKETT
AS FAR as unnecessary remakes go, The Magnificent Seven was actually pretty decent. The film was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who also directed Denzel Washington in Training Day and The Equalizer. Fuqua’s other decent directorial efforts include Shooter, Tears of the Sun, King Arthur and Southpaw.
The film is a remake of the 1960 western of the same name, which starred Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn. Both films are remakes of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai.Ê
I thought this most recent version of The Magnificent Seven was very entertaining, and fairly exciting. It was quite humorous, actually, and it looked beautiful.Ê
The cast was fantastic as well. Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio and Peter Sarsgaard are the big-name actors in the film, and joining them are the likes of Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Haley Bennett and Martin Sensmeier.Ê
The thing I find most interesting, though, is that I feel as though I shouldn’t have liked the movie.Ê
First and foremost it was very mass-market, and very obviously made to appeal to the widest audience. This makes perfect business sense, but it stripped the filmmakers of any freedom to explore some potentially unique storytelling moments. Each character was only given a few lines of dialogue worth of backstory; dare I say it, but I think I might have actually preferred a “prequel” film here. Some of the backstories hinted at seemed like they would be far more interesting than the rehash of the original that played out. Unfortunately, the characters seemed like caricatures of cliches.Ê
While I understand that in making a Western, there are certain cliches that must be used in order for the film to truly feel like a Western. I also fully recognize that the cliches on-screen in this film (and there are many) were meant to be seen as homage. However, I can’t help but feel that the film was extremely by-the-numbers. No risks were taken. Nothing new was done with these cliches. I truly feel like the film could have broken new ground and reinvigorated the Western genre. I am also a little disappointed that Fuqua didn’t explore some of the more interesting aspects of the admittedly diverse cast of characters he brought together.
That all being said, I stand by what I said at the start of my review. The film was entertaining and I had a great time watching it. Denzel’s charisma and Chris Pratt’s comedic timing, along with some cool action, definitely helped.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.