“The Magnificent Seven” remake looks to bring back the Western

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Outside of Quentin Tarantino, it seems like no one is really attempting to do Westerns anymore. This week, one does hit in the remake of The Magnificent Seven. This film, the latest take on the material, seeks to not just follow in those footsteps, but in Tarantino’s as well, echoing Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight in the process. Aside from remakes like 3:10 to Yuma, you have to look far and wide to find other Westerns these days, with the last memorable one perhaps being The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Come Friday though, Antoine Fuqua seeks to give you all another one to love.

This remake, which is not only a remake of The Magnificent Seven film of the same name, but also Seven Samurai, is an action Western. Here, when a town is being terrorized by a land thief (Peter Sarsgaard), they turn to a group of gun men to save the day. Recruited by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), the seven men are Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), and Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). Together, they will fight to save the people of this town and bring some justice to the Old West. The aforementioned Fuqua directs, while this version of the script comes to us from the duo of Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. Supporting players include Mark Ashworth, Matt Bomer, Cam Gigandet, Luke Grimes, and many more. Cinematography is by Mauro Fiore, while the score comes from the pairing of Simon Franglen and James Horner.

Denzel Washington;Chris Pratt;Ethan Hawke;Manuel Garcia-Rulfo;Vincent D Onofrio;Martin Sensmeier;Byung-hun Lee
I found the movie to be a mixed bag when all was said and done, though one that’s at least enjoyable for the most part. D’Onofrio, Pratt, and Washington are best in show, while Sarsgaard is fun as a villain, though it all feels a bit too rote. It’s not bad at all, but decidedly unmemorable. Considering how much talent is involved, it’s kind of a disappointment, though hardly an unforgivable one. It’s something worth seeing, as I’ll reiterate below, but lowered expectations will surely help. If you love Westerns though, I think you’ll mostly find this to satisfactory. It just never goes above and beyond in any way. Awards likely won’t come into play for this, though a strong box office is probably likely.

For those wondering, here is how I would rank Fuqua’s filmography so far to date:

1. Training Day
2. Brooklyn’s Finest
3. The Equalizer
4. Southpaw
5. Tears of the Sun
6. The Magnificent Seven
7. Shooter
8. The Replacement Killers
9. Bait
10. Olympus has Fallen
11. King Arthur

As for Washington, here now is my ten favorite performances of his, at least until Fences hits later on this year:

1. Philadelphia
2. The Hurricane
3. Malcolm X
4. Training Day
5. He Got Game
6. Flight
7. The Siege
8. Courage Under Fire
9. Crimson Tide
10. American Gangster

Honorable Mention: The Equalizer, Glory, Inside Man, Mo’ Better Blues, and Remember the Titans

Overall, tomorrow brings a new-ish Western to theaters in The Magnificent Seven, and that’s something to take note of. Fans of Pratt, Washington, or Westerns in general probably will dig at least most of what Fuqua put forward here. It’s imperfect, to be sure, and probably more of a throwaway summer would be blockbuster than a fall release around the start of awards season, but that’s another story. I suspect that this will do pretty well, and deservedly so. If this helps get us more Westerns in the coming years, all the better. Give it a shot and see what you think…

Be sure to check out The Magnificent Seven, in theaters everywhere this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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