Title: The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Release Date: September 23, 2016
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Antoine Fugua
Release Format: Theatrical
In 1954, Akira Kurosawa unleashed a little film called Seven Samurai upon audiences. Considered an action classic, Seven Samurai remains a true testament to brilliant filmmaking. However, it’s probably best known for inspiring its American remake, The Magnificent Seven (1960). It’s not often that remakes can be as good as their predecessor but Kurosawa was actually impressed by the American remake. As a result he even presented the director, Jim Sturgess with a sword. That’s quite the accomplishment, especially if you look back at the other Japanese properties that America has butchered. Consequently, a television series based on The Magnificent Seven came to pass in the 90’s. It only lasted two seasons but I am all for Michael Biehn and Ron Perlman sharing any screen time under any circumstances.
Now, we have another remake of The Magnificent Seven, given to us by director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer). This seems both fitting and ironic as Fugua pretty much made his version of this story back in 2004; They just called it King Arthur. Don’t get me wrong here, I really like his version of King Arthur. It was a fresh take on the legend that paid it a great deal of respect while still being its own thing. That being said, if you watch King Arthur, The Magnificent Seven inspiration is clearly there. Arthur and his six knights protecting a homeland from Saxon invaders who wish to claim the land for themselves. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this? In any case, now Fugua has done The Magnificent Seven “for realsies” and it is one of the best westerns to hit theaters in years.
I have one question; Why didn’t this film receive a summer release? Let’s be honest, 2016 represents one of the worst summer movie seasons in recent memory. Not that there weren’t any good ones, I certainly loved Star Trek Beyond & Suicide Squad (Don’t you judge me). But for the most part, this has just been a bad summer movie season. With so much disappointment, The Magnificent Seven (2016) is just what we needed. It is everything you want in a summer blockbuster, even if it isn’t a summer blockbuster.
The film sees peaceful townsfolk in peril over a rich tyrant (Peter Sarsgaard) who wants to take their land away. Fearing for her town, a widow (Haley Bennet) enlists the aid of a bounty hunter (Denzel Washington) to help protect it. Eventually, the bounty hunter recruits his own team of gunslingers, outlaws, and outcasts to aid him in his mission and they soon find themselves up against near-impossible odds to win the day.The story is your standard good vs evil plot line. Therefore, it can get predictable at times. You can definitely see where things are going to go in certain areas of the story. But, in all fairness, Seven Samurai as well as the original The Magnificent Seven (1960) basically did the same thing.
The Magnificent Seven (2016) does what a good remake is supposed to do. It takes a classic story and updates it in inventive ways. In this film’s case, it’s the backgrounds of certain characters and the action. One downside to the original film was that many of the characters felt the same. This remake does a full update, offering fun characters that are easily distinguishable and each holds their very own quirks and interesting personalities. Honestly, it’s the characters that promote this film from good to great. It is just a blast to have an adventure with them. Antoine Fuqua does a brilliant job at setting these characters up and making us care about them. Therefore, when things happen to them, we actually care.
For the most part, the casting in the film is great. Denzel gives a brilliant performance and it was great to see him and Ethan Hawke back together on screen. I can’t stress enough the remarkable chemistry between these two actors. Here they play ex-soldiers who fought on different sides of the civil war. The backstory described for them is as intriguing as it is heartbreaking. Vincent D’Onofrio is hilarious as Jack Horne, the aging tracker that joins the gang. From his voice to his dialogue to his fighting style, D’Onofrio simply kills it.
Byung-Hun Lee, whose probably best known for portraying Storm-Shadow in the G.I. Joe film franchise brings his martial arts expertise to the table as Billy Rocks and delivers some of the best-choreographed action of the entire film. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez (Not sure if this is a call back to Aliens but if it was, that’s pretty awesome) brings some comic relief and gets some of the funniest lines. Martin Sensmeier brilliantly portrays the Indian desperately looking for a path to walk. Haley Bennet as Emma Cullen is brilliant in every scene she’s in. She’s not a damsel in distress, she doesn’t need constant saving and she can demand a strong presence. I appreciated that they didn’t try and make her a love interest to one of the seven. Any lesser director would have done that and I’m glad Fuqua decided against it.
However, I have to admit, the one cast member who felt off was Chris Pratt. Don’t get me wrong, I love this actor and his character, Josh Faraday, is just as fun as the rest. That being said, his performance feels far too modern for a period piece like this. Chris Pratt feels like he’s playing his same character from Jurassic World. For the most part, there’s not much about him that makes me believe he’s from this time period. A fun performance to be sure but for a period piece like this, it’s just not a believable one. As far as the villain is concerned, he’s the typical slimy villain you’ve come to expect. Sarsgaard plays him so well, you absolutely love to hate this character. He’s such a horrible person, it’s almost unbelievable. Normally, I’d hate this but the performance is too good to hate.
This film is gorgeous to watch. Every shot in this film looks beautiful. As a result, Fuqua recaptures the old west in all of its glory. The action displayed in this film is phenomenal. The Magnificent Seven (2016) has one of the best climax’s I have seen in recent years. The entire battle is something clearly meant to be seen on the big screen. The aspect ratio of the film even changes when the climax begins. Every main character gets a chance to shine and be the hero. It is a fantastic climax and is worth the price of admission alone. The action is also fast-paced but not so phrenetic that you can’t understand what’s going on. This is not Michael Bay action, this is Antoine Fuqua action and it is glorious.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven (2016) is one of the best remakes to come along in awhile. It’s beautifully shot, charismatically acted by the whole cast and has some of the best shot action I’ve seen all year. Watching this, Fuqua makes it obvious just how passionate he was about this project and he pulls out all the stops to make it one of the most enjoyable westerns in recent memory. Is it perfect? No, it is predictable in some areas and Chris Pratt’s acting doesn’t fit the time period very well. However, these are minor problems in a vastly entertaining film. With that said, The Magnificent Seven (2016) is a great film and one of Fuqua’s best films to date.
- The Chemistry Between The Cast
- Fun Action
- Great Humor
- Beautiful Cinematography
- A Slimy Villain You Love To Hate
- Predictable In Parts
- Chris Pratt Feels Too Modern In His Performance
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.