Review of: The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The original The Magnificent Seven (1960) is my favorite Western and comparing it to this new version is inevitable. They are both based on the original Seven Samurai (1954) by Akira Kurosawa and share the same basic plot and characters. Those who know me know I have some very definite views about movie remakes (see Rules for Movie Remakes). But because this new film was made by and for a new generation I will attempt to review it with new eyes. However, because I do know and love the 1960 version I will do this review a little differently. The originals were about the characters I want to focus on the characters in this new film.
Denzel Washington is the rock solid center of this film. As Sam Chisolm, a Warrant Officer, he is tracking a law breaker, when a young woman (Haley Bennett) asks him to help her town break free from a ruthless mining Robber Baron Bart Boque (Peter Sarsgaard). It seems that Chisolm has heard of Bogue and is convinced to recruit men to help the town.
Washington’s Chisolm it the center of this film. He is solid, quiet and powerful. Washington is capable of letting you see his character’s strength with a minimum of dialog or action. This gives Chisolm more depth (we will see why later in the film) and the charisma to recruit others to an obviously dire situation.
Chis Pratt is delightful as the gambler/gunman Faraday. He is the self-confessed “greatest lover” in the West and is talked into the going a this “hopeless” cause so that he can get his horse back. But what we find outright away is that his humor and fast talking covers up a hopeless romantic.
Ethan Hawk is Robicheaux the legendary Southern gentleman and “angel of death” of the Civil War. He is a complex character due to what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. Hawke, who has worked with both Washington and the director Fuqua before in Training Day, is able to show the false bravura and southern charm of a character that could have easily been very loathsome be actually a very sympathetic. This is important because once Robicheaux finds his true courage we are ready to cheer him on.
This cast is very diverse. Beside African-American Washington, you have a Hispanic Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, Asian Bynung-hun Lee as Billy Rocks and Native-American Martin Sensmeier as the Red Harvest. All of these actors are absolutely great in their roles.
And then there is Vincent D`Onofrio as the old fat white guy roll of Jack Horne. He is a big bear of a man that has a talks like a preacher in high pitched voice. He is totally engaging. I was hoping for more scenes with him.
So the cast was great, but they really were there to serve only the action. And the action was outstanding. The director, Antoine Fuqua, has a good since of pacing and of how to build tension. And the action and stunts were real and not CGI. I just wished a director that goes to all of the trouble to building interesting characters would not short change us by not giving us more time with them in personal moments and interactions. It is like a chocolate chip cookie. The chocolate is the action and the cookie dough are the characters. If you make very good cookie, you will appreciate the chocolate chips more. I feel that even though The Magnificent Seven is a very good action move if would have been better with more cookie.