2016 – USA
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett
Words: S. Nix
Southpaw director Antoine Fuqua was a bit apprehensive about taking on this job and rightly so; 1960’s The Magnificent Seven is widely regarded as one of the untouchable greats of its genre.
A westernised take on Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 masterpiece Seven Samurai, Magnificent told the story of seven gunslingers hired to defend a town from bandits.
2016’s remake brings a suitably multi-ethnic posse to the big screen that have some similarities to their 1960 counterparts but are their own men, with their own stories and characters. The enemy this time around isn’t raiding bandits but a greedy, corrupt and bullying industrialist by the name of Bogue (Sarsgaard). After the people of Rose Creek are terrorised by Bogue, they turn to Sam Chisolm (Washington) for help in defending their land. Chisolm, in turn, recruits a merry band of badass misfits to lend their singularly deadly talents to his cause. Cue plenty of action of the rootinest, tootinest and shootinest variety.
It’s all here: the slick hammer-fanning, the Bible quotations, the oozing machismo and the borderline alcoholism. Yes, Magnificent Seven has all the hallmarks of a classic Western, folks. Its slightly ostentatious and cheesy aesthetic may make some members of the audience yawn, turn up their noses and wish they were at home cuddled up in front of their Revenant blu-ray but the rest of them will guzzle the hackneyed set pieces and corny one-liners like whiskey from a hipflask.
I unashamedly fell into the latter category – only because this film packs actual charm and good old-fashioned story-telling with modern effects. It avoids being kitsch through its not pretending that the Old West in 1879 was a utopia of multi-cultural acceptance and dialling the grit and gore up to safe 12A-rated levels, striking a nice balance for a remake of a much-loved classic. I think its message of standing up to bullying and acts of terrorism is one we can all get behind these days.
As the movie progresses you’ll be surprised how attached you get to the Seven, not just as a posse dispensing vengeance on bad guys (and in style,too) but as individual characters. It’s a fun 2 hours with a decent payoff at the end, albeit a bittersweet one. If you want to see a strong, talented cast saddle up and make a stand for the little guy this month, The Magnificent Seven is your huckleberry.