‘The Magnificent Seven’ is a strong remake in the Western genre proving the genre may be very far down but isn’t quite out yet. The film stars a top tier cast including Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ethan Hawke among others, and is directed by Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’, ‘Southpaw’). When a town becomes overrun by the evil Bartholomew Bogue the people employ a team of seven individuals who must unite their magnificent skills to take back the town and free its people. The film is by no means as polished, big, or epic as classic (and some modern) Westerns such as the ‘Dollars Trilogy’ and ‘3:10 to Yuma’ but it is a very enjoyable action thriller that is most definitely not without its setbacks. The biggest being that if you split this film roughly down the middle you get one half of below average Western content and one half of fun, drama, and thrilling action. The first part still had its moments but felt a little flat, poorly paced, and not extremely interesting. The second however was fast paced, action packed, and almost everything i love about the Western genre executed very well by Antoine Fuqua.
The problem with the initial portion of the film was that it seemed as though it was very confused whether it wanted to be a more dramatic Western or something a little more light and comedic. This made it hard to stay engaged and an hour in it needed to pick up. But suddenly when the second half came around it went from zero to hero in a matter of minutes. The pacing picked up, there was some major development in the plot, action was pleasantly chaotic, and the tone was all of a sudden very defined, consistent, and fit with what was going on in the film at the time. And it continued this level of quality right through to almost 5 minutes off the end. The film made use of a relatively simple and straightforward overall plot with smaller side plots and character interactions left to do most of the work driving the film forward. And the action, man the action is fantastic, when bullets go flying i was fully engaged.
All of the films marketing puts an emphasis on the seven characters (no shit) and their differing appearances and traits. But the question remains; Were there really seven interesting characters, or did two stand out with the rest hovering in the back? And even i’m surprised to say that despite my initial impressions i left the film having remembered every character and enjoying all of their roles in the film. Some characters such as Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) i thought were going to annoy me but really grew on me as the film went on. Even the lesser featured characters such as Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) had a good amount of screen time and were incorporated very well. Performance-wise everyone was good…. no-one was given much hard hitting dramatic or emotional content but in terms of comedic timing, dialogue delivery, and action execution everyone did a good job with no real individual standout role.
So in the end, for fans of the struggling Western genre this is no epic, but there is a lot in here to enjoy and there are also parts that aren’t all that great. Hiding behind a sluggish first half is an action packed thrilling finale that i enjoyed a lot and makes this a very enjoyable film.