Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt star in THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, a new western that’s a remake of a remake. This new version will be a hit with people who enjoyed the shoot ‘em up westerns of the 1950’s where the hero triumphs against great odds after lots of gun battles where plenty of people are killed but there’s no real suffering or blood. The characters are stereotypes, and the storyline follows old fashioned formulas. But there is one major improvement over the old movies: the cinematography is spectacular.
Emma: Sir; I have a proposition. We’re decent people being driven from our homes…slaughtered in cold blood
Sam: So you seek revenge?
Emma: I seek righteousness, but I’ll take revenge.
Haley Bennet is Emma, a recent widow, appealing to our hero, Sam Chisolm, played by Denzel Washington, starring in a western for the first time.
Faraday: Your shooting is good.
Chris Pratt is Josh Faraday, the number 2 good guy, who notices Haley’s beauty, but in the spirit of old westerns never does anything but flirt with her.
Bad guy: I want somethin’ I take it.
And Peter Sarsgaard is the bad guy, Bogue, who intends to take over the gold mine these folks own. Bogue is a caricature of an evil villain minus only the mustache to twirl.
To help the local folks, Sam manages to pull together a motley crew of misfits who make up the “magnificent seven.” They intend to fight to the end against the villain’s large army.
Sam: You tell Bogue, if he wants this town, come see me.
(A gunfight ensues.)
This early takedown scene is minor violence compared to the long shootout that happens at the end of the film.
That this movie was made at all is a testament to the power of the Japanese film that created its formula back in 1954: THE SEVEN SAMURAI, starring Toshiro Mifune. The first American film based on the basic plot of THE SEVEN SAMURAI, also called THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, starred Yul Brenner and Steve McQueen. I’m sure that if he were alive today, John Sturges, the director of that1960 movie, would marvel at the action cinematography of this year’s version.
But, for me, the new MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is so divorced from reality that I kept seeing the skill and artifice of the filmmaker and the actors, and I was never caught up in the heroic melodrama.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org