The Magnificent Seven, rated PG-13
This film is a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1960 film starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, which was actually a remake of Kurosawa’s 1954 film Seven Samurai. This version is directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, The Equalizer), and written by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. It features a new rendition of the familiar Elmer Bernstein theme music as the closing credits roll. This was two-time Oscar winner James Horner’s (Titanic) final score before his death in June, 2015.
The film is set in the western town of Rose Creek in 1879. This was a time when the local church was still a prominent place in town. The film contains a surprising amount of Christian content (church, preacher, dialogue).
Corrupt industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, (well-played by Peter Sarsgaard) is wanting to take over Rose Creek because of the valuable mines located in the town, and is only offering the townspeople pennies on the dollar for their land. As the film opens, we see him burn down the church and murder several people, including the husband of Emma Cullen (played by Haley Bennett). Cullen is looking to avenge her husband’s death and save Rose Creek, so with her life’s savings she seeks out Sam Chisolm (played by two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington in his first western film). Chisolm is a man of justice, a bounty hunter, who dresses all in black and rides a black horse.
Chisolm then recruits six others to help defend Rose Creek from Bogue and his men. He first recruits Josh Faraday, (played by Chris Pratt of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World). His repeated line in the film “So far, so good”, was also used by Steve McQueen’s character in the 1960 film.
We then meet sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheauz (played by four-time Oscar nominee Ethan Hawke), who suffers from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, and his right-hand man Billy Rocks (played by Byung-hun Lee), who is deadly with blades. Chisolm lets Mexican outlaw Vasquez (played by Manuel Garcia-Fulfo) live, and he becomes one of the seven. Next, Chisolm adds Comanche warrior Red Harvest (played by Martin Sensmeier) who is deadly accurate with a bow and arrow. The final member of the Magnificent Seven is the bear-like trapper Jack Horne (played by Vincent D’Onofrio), who has a bible verse for each new victim he kills.
The Seven know that the odds are against them, as Bogue will bring many more fighting men than they have. They try their best to train the townspeople how to shoot rifles and use warfare tactics which leads to some humorous results. One of my favorite parts of the film was seeing the strategic steps the Seven take to protect their undermanned town.
But there is little character development in this film, as the emphasis is on gun-fighting. Washington, one of our finest actors and long one of my favorites, is under-utilized in this role. The emphasis on action and lack of character development reminded me of this summer’s Jason Bourne starring Matt Damon. I would have liked Fuqua to give us the back-story of each of the characters and more character interaction and a little less of the gun-fighting scenes.
The film is rated PG-13 for extreme gun-fighting violence with dozens killed, and some adult language including several abuses of God’s name. It had a budget of about $95 million and took the top spot domestically with $35 million in its opening weekend. Overall, I felt that the film was entertaining, but nothing special considering the cast assembled, and also a bit long at 132 minutes.