Not letting up on the 2016 theme of sequels and remake, The Magnificent Seven hits theaters this weekend, reprising on old western with a new twist. As I watched the film, I wondered what was the reason this film got made. Sure, it's a fun movie, a big gunfight battle at the end and big name actors strutting in cowboy boots, but there is no real purpose or direction. The movie is popcorn fun to help fill the months between peak Fall Oscar season and the end of summer blockbusters. The Magnificent Seven straddles the line between blockbuster and serious film.
The movie is packed full of big actors as most of the seven are recognizable names and even some of the minor roles are faces that are familiar. Rising star Haley Bennett plays Emma Cullen, a widow who recruits a bounty hunter to help her take down a robber baron. Bennett is on the rise with an impressive year starting with Hardcore Henry and also looking forward to Girl on a Train. Denzel Washington plays the bounty hunter Sam Chisolm who agrees to help the town and beings recruitment. His first recruit is a card shark Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt). Pratt smirks and chuckles playing the character viewers have seen in all the blockbusters he's been in.
Among the other recruits are an ex-Confederate soldier Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his knife-wielding partner Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee). Lee plays one of the more enjoyable characters to watch during the action scenes. Hawke is fine as the troubled soldier with a few scenes of quality acting throughout. Rounding out the seven are Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Vasquez and Harvest don't get much character development and fulfill the quota. It hurts the film that the rest of the characters are bland. Matt Bomer shows up as Bennett's husband but he's cut down quickly. Peter Sarsgaard is mediocre as the villain Bartholomew Bogue, a bad guy we've seen him play before in other films.
The plotting suffers from a slow pace. The first recruitment act concludes with a decent enough gunfight but that stops the action until the final battle sequence. The ending was fun to watch but knowing that is all for the film kind of brings it down a little and makes this a movie to see once and not again for a while. It lacks any sort of message of the themes of technology of the original thought Antoine Fuqua's directing is always fun to watch. His movies have been hit or miss for me, and this film falls a bit in the middle.
I'm not familiar with the first one, I think I saw it a while ago, but that might have been another Western. If I can get it soon, I'll write a quick review in comparison of the remake. I can't help but think all of the cast members and production cost would have been better spent on an original piece to tell a new story, even if it shared the setting. The Magnificent Seven serves as a transitional film from summer to fall.