Friday, September 23, 2016

Movie Review: "The Magnificent Seven" (1960)

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Movie"The Magnificent Seven"
Director: John Sturges
Year: 1960
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

A farming village hires seven gunfighters to help them fight off a group of raiding bandits. 

"The Magnificent Seven" is directed by John Sturges and is a westernized re-imagining of Akira Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai." Much like the film it's based on, "The Magnificent Seven" is about a small farming village, only this time, it is set in Mexico. This farming village is regularly raided by Calvera, played by Eli Wallach, and his large group of bandits. A few of the villagers decide they need outside help and take everything they have to hire some gunfighters to help protect them. These gunfighters include Chris Larabee Adams, played by the clearly Russian Yul Brenner, who in turn brings on Vin Tanner, played by Steve McQueen, Bernardo O'Reilly, played by Charles Bronson, Harry Luck, played by Brad Dexter, Britt, played by James Coburn, and Lee, played Robert Vaughn. The seventh man, Chico, played by Horst Buccholz, was originally rejected by the group for being too young and inexperienced, but he eventually proves his worth with persistence and a hell of a fish catching ability. Together, this magnificent group are tasked with hatching a plan to keep this village safe, regardless of the fact they will not be paid much and have a lot of hard work to do to get the farmers fight-ready for the battle of their lives.

At only 2 hours and 8 minutes, "The Magnificent Seven" clocks in about an hour and a half shorter than "Seven Samurai" as it scales down the recruitment of the seven and the training processes they must go through to become ready for the impending fight against the bandits. This film doesn't quite have the epic scale and is a far more compressed western, which isn't necessarily a criticism. It is still quite successful as an action western, though much of the drama from Kurosawa's original movie has been laid to rest with the aforementioned elongated plot points. It is the much more straightforward of the two films, though some of the seven don't feel quite as developed, mainly Lee and Harry. Britt isn't all that developed either, but this feels somewhat intentional as he is the more quiet, dangerous, stoic type of man with nerves of steel. You don't really need to know all that much about him other than he is the best at what he does. Chris, Vin, Bernardo, and Chico seem to have the most layered characters and the most screen time, despite Brenner and McQueen's on-set squabbles. They, along with the villain Calvera, are the most intriguing characters and the ones we get the most invested in over the course of this western. Bronson, McQueen, and Buccholz give awesome performances, but it's really the steely Brenner and the cunning and intemperate Wallach who steal the show.

Though it shares many plot points with its predecessor, "The Magnificent Seven" does make a few major changes toward the end, which was both unexpected but completely welcome. It adds an interesting dynamic in the final battle that we didn't see coming in an attempt to forge its own path on its own as a standalone picture. In the end, this film winds up being very entertaining with a great final battle full of action and excitement. It might not be as good as the foreign language original, but it's still one of the better remakes ever made.

My Rating: 7.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 7.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 90%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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