Friday, September 23, 2016

Movie Review #493: "The Magnificent Seven" (2016)

Movie"The Magnificent Seven"
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 12 minutes
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A woman named Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) hires a group of gunfighters to protect her town from a robber baron named Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who is trying to steal it for himself to use in conjunction with his nearby goldmine. 

The best summer movie of 2016 came out in September 2016, ladies and gents!

"The Magnificent Seven" is directed by Antoine Fuqua, who is known for his wonderful films "Training Day" and "The Equalizer," as well as his terrible film "Olympus Has Fallen." It is a remake of the 1960 John Sturges western "The Magnificent Seven," which was a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 epic "Seven Samurai." Much like the previous two incarnations, the plot of this version revolves around a small farming village who hires a group of men for protection. This time around, the man they need protection from is a robber baron named Bartholomew Bogue, played by Peter Sarsgaard, who wants the small town of Rose Creek for his mining operation. Bogue has used his wealth to buy off local law enforcement and to hire mercenaries to intimidate and kill whoever dare stand in his way. When a couple of the townspeople try and stand up to him, he and his mercenaries do just that and kill them dead in the street right outside of the town's church. After her husband is murdered, a woman named Emma Cullen, played by Haley Bennett, along with Teddy Q, played by Luke Grimes, head out to find protection for the town. They happen across a warrant officer named Chisolm, played by the incomparable Denzel Washington, who agrees to help her out despite not being offered a whole heck of a lot for the job. Chisolm recruits six others, including the somewhat arrogant yet charming Josh Faraday, played by Chris Pratt, his old friend and fellow warrant officer Goodnight Robicheaux, played by Ethan Hawke, the deadly quick knife-smith Billy Rocks, played by Byung-hun Lee, a wanted outlaw named Vasquez, played by Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, a former Indian hunter named Jack Horne, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, and a Comanche warrior on his own path named Red Harvest, played by Martin Sensmeier. Together, this group heads for Rose Creek in an effort to help its citizens fight for what belongs to them before it is taken away by the slimy, sinister Bogue.

Though this film has the same basic elements as the two previous versions, the 2016 version of "The Magnificent Seven" is very much its own film. It has a new fantastic, diverse cast of characters with brilliant actors putting on wonderful performances. Denzel Washington is the perfect choice for the ballsy, mouthy, brave, charismatic bounty hunter Chisolm, who is haunted by his past and wants to do right by those he has lost. Chris Pratt returns to form to play the comedic relief of the bunch in the character of Faraday, proving his "Guardians of the Galaxy" sarcastic charm and quick timing were not just a one-and-done coincidence. Vincent D'Onofrio plays the crazy one of the bunch in Jack Horne, and we feel like those who have seen the original movies ("Seven Samurai" and "The Magnificent Seven") will understand he is playing the Kikuchiyo/Chico part in the story, the oddball who isn't quite all there and is a bit of a clown in some respects. He, Pratt, and Washington are nothing short of brilliant. Ethan Hawke and Byung-hun Lee are also excellent as a partners in crime package deal, with Hawke's Goodnight Robicheaux being a bit of an unpredictable, inconsistent player who may have lost his touch, and Lee's Billy Rocks being the non-gunfighter of the bunch, favoring knives and hairpins over bullets. Martin Sensmeier's Red Harvest just sort of appears to join the seven, not really getting too much back story other than the fact that he's on his own path away from his tribe, but he does a damn fine job in his part. Finally, there's Vasquez. We knew nothing about Manuel Garcia-Rulfo before this film, but we sure know his name now. Though his character doesn't get a whole lot of backstory either, Garcia-Rulfo stood out to me as someone to watch out for in the future because Vasquez is every bit as charming, quick, and cunning as Pratt's Faraday.

After a relatively disappointing summer blockbuster season, Antoine Fuqua's "The Magnificent Seven" is a welcome treat and a very well made western. Who would have thought one of the most fun, exciting summer action films would come out the first day of fall? This film is absolutely worth watching for the various bouts of gunplay along the way, but even more so for the final showdown. It is over the top, grandiose and explosive, but it's also impressive, entertaining, and thrilling, too. While there is absolutely nothing new here in terms of plot, and while it doesn't change the western genre one lick as it favors genre clich├ęs over all, it doesn't really matter. We had an absolute blast watching the spectacle of it all unfold, enthralled by what was about to happen even though we may have known what was coming. The many storied characters are extremely lively and make terrific team. To watch Fuqua's characters come to life and be played by some of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen all while clearly having an insane amount of fun while making this picture, that's really all you can ask for in an action movie. Despite mixed reviews, we think "The Magnificent Seven" rocks. Director Antoine Fuqua forges his own path with his version of this age old tale and does so in a spectacular way, bringing both beauty in his camera shots and carnage in his gunfights. For lovers of westerns, or action movies, of Denzel Washington, or Chris Pratt, or really anyone involved in this picture, it is a must see on the big screen.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: ~64%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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