Here we go again. Another lazily rehashed piece of American cinema, polished with a fresh coat of hi-res CGI. With a cast that tries to mimic the original, instead of actually updating the product for a modern audience; we have another reason to “Netflix and chill” instead of fighting traffic, exorbitant ticket prices, bland concessions, glowing phones, loud popcorn munchers and mouth breathers, just to see something that was better (in this case) 56 years ago. The story of The Magnificent Seven (1960) was conventional back then. The film, itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954); arguably the most retold story in cinema, has inspired countless adaptations. From Suicide Squad (2016) to The Wild Bunch (1966), the idea of hiring/forcing a band of misfits to protect/defend a town/village from an evil businessman/gang is old business. With classic Westerns sliding further away from the mainstream conscientiousness, the Magnificent Seven remake seems doomed to be future background noise when it premiers on cable TV next year. The Magnificent Seven however, makes a simple but effective changes to the story; effectively making the film feel like an update, and not a carbon copy remake. Replicating the sights and sounds of a film is loads easier than recreating the emotional content felt by my parent’s generation, yet director Antoine Fuqua manages the improbable.
Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) is a bounty hunter, somewhere in the middle of America, 1879. After capturing his bounty, Sam is approached by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). A recent widow, Ms. Cullen is from Rose Creek, a mining town living under the thumb of a ruthless businessman Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Bogue wants the buy the land from townsfolk, who are unwilling to sell. So Bouge does what any respectable businessman would do, murder and burn the town’s church. With her husband killed and the town with 3 weeks to sign their land over to Bogue, before he ransacks the town again, Ms. Cullen hires Chislom to defend the town. Chisolm rounds up 6 other men to help defend Rose Creek.
As fun as the ensemble cast makes The Magnificent Seven, the film is stained by its own predictability. Sure, it’s a remake and director Fuqua purposely keeps the story simple, using the formula of the original; yet, the film though fun doesn’t challenge the audience into thinking about alternatives to its formulaic conclusion. Set in 1879, the setting didn’t feel like Reconstruction Era America. Missing the mark on creating an authentic experience, PG-13 level violence didn’t help; The Magnificent Seven remains a worthy remake that is a summer blockbuster surprise, to start the fall.
Rated: Pg-13 @ 133 mins
Note: In IMAX Where Available