For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘The Magnificent Seven,’ check out the video below or read on for our mini-review!
As a remake of 1960’s ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – which was itself a remake of a 1954 Kurosawa film called ‘Seven Samurai’ – the 2016 revisit had battles right out of the gate. Not of the gun slingin’ variety, mind – though certainly, there are plenty of those in the film – but more so the difficult task of making a spaghetti Western relevant and entertaining in an increasingly modern age. In a world of text messages and self-driving cars, telegrams and horses aren’t exactly exciting fare for many. Even so, director Antoine Fuqua does his best to engender our interest in a time gone by – with the help of a star-saddled cast, of course.
Let’s be honest for a moment: without the likes of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ wouldn’t have much else going for it. We’ve seen this story so, so many times even in the most recent of years: a disparate band of heroes comes together to protect the weak — Avengers assemble! But, to be fair, that was the setup of the original two films, so we can’t expect much deviation there perhaps. Which is why it’s a good thing that Dapper Denzel in all his black-clad, bad-ass glory anchors the film.
Washington brings gravitas and nuance that root the audience in the story’s stakes. Balanced out by Pratt’s wise-cracking Star-Lord-in-a-cowboy-hat brand of comedy, the audience is buoyed to a middle ground that offers both light and dark. And with ensemble action films, you really need both so that’s a win! Hawk and D’Onofrio play their parts well, too, and we even get some stand out shining from Byung-hun Lee (Billy) and Martin Sensmeir (Red Harvest), who bring some much needed diversity to the cast.
But these characters aside, ‘The Magnificent Seven’ tiredly retreads the same old story for the hundredth time this year. The battles are visually striking and the action certainly keeps you engaged (not every action film can do that nowadays), but it’s the time between those enthralling sequences that sags. At several points, the momentum stalls and characters are left to languish in the mud in the build-up towards the next big action sequence. It makes for sleep-inducing hum drum, which isn’t exactly the hallmark of a great Western.
‘The Magnificent Seven’ is a soft-pass for us theater-wise, though if you’re a Western genre fanatic you’ll likely enjoy the sweeping vistas and fast horsing on the big screen. We’d recommend just waiting for Blu-ray, but you gotta do you. Either way, if the cast or the genre piques your interest, check the film out but keep your expectations low.
Written by Brad Harris, Movie Bears Podcast