The strange thing about remakes is that they exist in the first place. When you have what is deemed the best Western ever, why would you try to do it all again. Well, to bring it to a new generation of viewers, you’d think. But it never fails that the oldies who remember the original will compare it and most of them will go “meh”.
But, let’s forget the confines of the past and look at Antoine Fuqua’s Magnificent Seven (2016) on its own merits. It’s a bro film about a time when men meant what they said, when honour trumped greed and “because it’s the right thing to do” was reason enough to risk your life. So, when the town of Rose Creek is attacked by a mining magnate and his henchmen the farmers know that they have to stand and defend or leave everything they and their families have worked for and give way to the bully.
Haley Bennet does a fine job of Emma Cullen, a tough farming gal who doesn’t take the now cliched uber-femme thing too far. She knows the town needs help so she decides to go out and find it, but when the chips are down, she can handle a gun and actually do some damage.
Enter Sam Chisolm, played by Denzel Washington, a tall-riding, black-hatted, bounty hunter who becomes the honourable leader of the gang. It’s doubtful Washington will be getting any Oscars for his role but he does a great job. He is joined by gambler Faraday (Chris Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), mountain man Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), knives expert Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-Hun), Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and exiled Comanche Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeir). They each bring their unique gifts to form a formidable force that takes on the impossible.
Peter Sarsgaard does an excellent job of playing the villain Bartholomew Bogue who appears to be dying of his own greed for gold.
The special effects are minimal, but Fuqua and co try to cram in as many Western cliches as possible, from the pistol twirling and card tricks, to the smart horse that won’t be tamed and the stong-silent “injun”. This makes for lots of hard-eyed stares between men who seem to have a problem killing.
The story moves along at a good lope with the scenery as dramatic as the story. It’s great to see a Western back on circuit and given a fresh coat of paint with a new understanding gained of life at that time.
The late James Horner’s score lives up to his and the movie’s name. He had completed the backbone of the music – which was finished by Simon Franglen – before dying in a plane crash last year.
This seems like it would only be a movie for the bro-squad, but there’s a lot to satisfy everyone.
Be warned there is lots of violence but it isn’t gratuitous.