“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of the 1960 John Sturges film of the same name, which in itself, is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film, “The Seven Samurai”. The first film is considered by many to be one of the greatest movies of all time and appears on several top movie lists. The second film, while not quite so applauded, is a good western with a fun cast and a lot of heart. I definitely recommend that you see those two films. The question is, should you see this new one?
This new film, which is directed by Antoine Fuqua starts by showing a meeting at a church between the townspeople of Rose Creek. A “Robber Baron” by the name of Bartholomew Bogue owns a gold mine outside of town, and his operation is resulting in the poisoning of the river water, so all of their crops are dying. People are scared of him because he has a crew of armed mercenaries that roam the town. Some people just want to move away. Some people think that they can reason with Bogue. One young married man (Matt Bomer) wants people to stand up to him.
In the middle of the meeting, Bogue comes in with his mercenaries and makes a huge scene, getting everyone even more scared and riled up. A few people end up getting shot, including the young married man. His wife Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), and another young townsperson decide to try to hire themselves some mercenaries to kill Bogue and end his tyranny over the town.
Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt play Chisolm and John Faraday, the first two mercenaries that she hires. Chisolm is an actual bounty hunter and lawman, while Faraday is a gambler. It seems unlikely that Faraday would be recruited since he shows neither Emma nor Chisolm any signs of skills of any kind. It makes no sense, really to hire a gambler for this job. They eventually end up with a team of 7, including a Civil War veteran/sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), his Chinese friend/manservant Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), a Mexican bandit Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a native-American warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), and a hunter Jack Horne (Vincent Donofrio).All of these characters are introduced in very brief scenes that really don’t tell you much about them except in very broad strokes.
All of these characters are introduced in very brief scenes that really don’t tell you much about them except in very broad strokes. We get a little bit of flavor here and there for some, while others (like Red Harvest and Vasquez) we know almost nothing about. They are treated like throw-away characters. It gives the film a shallow feeling at times.
And I find a lot of the film to be lazy like this. Some of the action scenes are fun, one near the end is not quite believable. Overall, you can go to the film and just enjoy it as a popcorn film, ignoring how shallow it is, or some of its implausibility. There is definite enjoyment to be had. Just don’t go there expecting much. Just watch out for one TERRIBLY cheesy line near the end — it’s painfully bad. If you don’t cringe like I did, I’d be surprised.
I’m not saying that it’s a bad film, just that there are better ways to spend your time. If you want to spend the evening watching a good, exciting western, and you haven’t seen the John Sturgis version, you should rent it instead. Or better yet, watch the Akira Kurosawa classic “The Seven Samurai”. Or watch both. But don’t pay full price for this film — wait for it to come onto Netflix or Amazon Prime instead. That’s my recommendation.