This remake of a great movie that itself was a remake of an all-time great movie is not in the same league as its predecessors. It doesn’t seem likely to be remembered this time next year, let alone in a decade or two. Still, it delivers enough on its premise and its stars are charismatic enough to carry it through.
The plot of this film is likely known to everyone considering heading to the cinema to see it. An impoverished town is menaced by a bandit, so they take all that they have to hire some fighters to save them from this menace. This changes some things up from the original Magnificent Seven, such as the bandit actually being an unscrupulous robber baron. Other than that, though, it plays out just as you’d expect.
There have been changes to the make-up of the heroes. This Magnificent Seven unobtrusively features a diverse cast of gunslingers. Denzel Washington plays Sam Chisolm, the first of the gunmen recruited by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett). He is soon joined by Chris Pratt’s Faraday, a gambling, drunken trickster, as well as duo played by Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee. They are soon joined by a Mexican outlaw, an mountain man and a lone Comanche. Each gun fighters has their role and quirks and while none are particularly well-developed as characters they do work as delivery methods for the shoot outs. While Denzel is Denzel, Chris Pratt does his “Harrison Ford, but goofier” thing and Ethan Hawke creates as tortured soul in his character, the most entertaining is Vincent D’Onofrio as the mountain man Jack Horne. He rumbles around scenes, using his size and power in a fight while reciting Bible verses in his high pitched wheeze of a voice. It is always unexpected and amusing.
The Magnificent Seven nails a tone that is serious without being too heavy and humorous without being too light. That is apparent in its two leads, Washington and Pratt. Pratt brings the same energy he had in Jurassic World and Guardians and the Galaxy. That contrasts but doesn’t clash with the more somber Washington who is a deadly serious man on a mission. The rest fit in somewhere between those two, often managing to do a little of both. The villain, played by Peter Sarsgaard, is given too much time for it to be okay for him to be as vague as he is. He believes he has the God given right to take what he wants, but he is given no real motivation.
There are some great shots of western scenery, and the shoot outs are largely intelligible if not especially impressive. It is a movie that is competently made, but not flashy or especially memorable.
The Magnificent Seven is an unusual specimen these days, a straight western. There is no twist to it; it is just a shoot up between obvious bad guys and obvious good guys. That simplicity is one of the films greatest strengths. It is a simple tale told well, with a cast that is worth coming to see. It will likely be little remembered, though it will be remembered fondly.