THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Directed by Antoine Fuqua
Starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
Based on the Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai, director Antoine Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven (not to be confused with the 1960 film of the same name, which is also based on the Kurosawa film) mixes modern cinema tropes with classic, sweeping western genre antics. While it's nothing terribly new, Fuqua meets and exceeds his promise to entertain.
The small horse town of Rose Creek, a functioning saloon-centered western town if there ever was one, comes under the demise of ruthless industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). With murder on his hands and plenty of money, and henchmen, to back him up, Bogue leaves with the town under his watch. After her husband is murdered by Bogue, widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) offers her entire savings and livelihood to bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) in turn for the death of Bogue. Chisolm wrangles a group of rough riders to help defeat Bogue and bring the town of Rose Creek back to its feet.
It's this group of rough riders that seals the deal, as hinted to by the film's title. And, the journey to collect this group of outsiders and gunslingers is the meat of the film's plot. Never dull in any sense of their collective traits and talents, the wild west ride leading up to Bogue's return is quick-witted and full of beautiful landscapes and galloping horses.
Fuqua masters the look and feel of the western, even giving his most Fuqua-esque cinematic moments the dusty drawl of a desert sand. Washington's Chisolm makes for a tough-as-nails hero, bent on completing the task and offering sly words of wisdom along the way. In fact, the dialogue throughout the film flips back and forth between traditional western and almost-cheesy action flick. Most notably, Chris Pratt's Josh Faraday gets plenty of screen time delivering cheeky one-liners and charming smiles.
The over two hours long film does struggle from ambitious storytelling, but the payoff is worth it. The third act of the film, when Bogue makes his return, is a raucous, bullet-filled, explosive finale in all of its glory. Preserving its PG-13 rating, there's minimal bloodshed; perhaps the only detail separating this from a Quentin Tarantino movie of a similar nature.
It's not that the film is disappointing. There's enough at stake to keep you on the edge of your seat and satisfied. Where it flounders is in its scope, never quite living up to the epic film it wants to be.
Oscar darling? Perhaps not. The return of the western? Yes, indeed.
Runtime: 2h 12min