AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are the centrepieces of this remake of the 1960s classic. (Which is in turn an Americanised remake of the Akira Kurosawa classic Seven Samurai) Now, I’ve not seen the original The Magnificent Seven, so I have approached this film without any prior knowledge to go off aside from the trailers.

The Magnificent Seven takes place in America in 1879. The small, sleepy town of Rose Creek comes under siege from Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Realising the potential gold mine it is, Bogue decides to lay siege to the town of Rose Creek and tries to buy out the town for a measly sum.

Now, Bogue isn’t armed with a few exceptional shooters, no. It’s more of a small army that out populates the town. Bogue sets his terms for Rose Creek and in a scuffle some townspeople are shot, including Emma Cullen’s (Haley Bennett) husband, Matthew. (Matt Bomer)

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You can see where this is going right?

Although the film does have the all-star casting and excellent backdrops, majority of the film is foreseeable for what will happen next. Emma Cullen meets Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) and enlists his help to take back Rose Creek. Much of the next twenty to thirty minutes of the film is Denzel enlisting other well-known gunslingers of the West including Goodnight Robicheux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and a wanted Mexican bandit Vasquez. (Manuel Garcia-Ruflo)

The titular ‘Magnificent Seven’ is completed by Chris Pratt’s Faraday, Billy Rock (Byung-hun Lee) and the Native American Comanche warrior Red Harvest. (Martin Sensmeier) They arrive at Rose Creek to be met with resistance from Bogue’s men. A quick battle ensues where Bogue’s men are killed rather skilfully.

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This film is enjoyable for what’s on screen, and my personal enjoyment ends there. Whilst the characters are fun and are seemingly having fun on screen, I didn’t care for their outcomes. Peter Sarsgaard’s Bogue exhibits the most captivating performance, as he is painted as a corrupt industrialist man, but remains calm and collected during the sieges of Rose Creek.

As I mentioned above, the story offers little or no twists and turns but chooses to focus on the large-scale fight sequences, which are very entertaining in the big-screen surrounding. Antoine Fuqua chose to include a light-hearted effort to counter the action-heavy sequences through Chris Pratt’s not-too-serious Faraday. Fantastically Fuqua didn’t overuse this method and created the perfect balance.

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The Magnificent Seven is a good film, if you’re after a pretty backdrop and enjoyable action sequences. But with the story and the character (aside from Bogue) I found that it let the film down on a whole. They are two sides to the coin though, as Fuqua seems to be a master at creating tense scenes, which he did twice in this film quite superbly. In between these tense scenes and the fights the film does tend to drag and unfortunately it seems longer than the 130-minute runtime.

In the grand scheme of things, this film is enjoyable, it just doesn’t pull its weight when compared with this months earlier releases like Hunt for the Wilderpeople or Kubo and the Two Strings. The story takes on a darker role late on the finale, but this is too late to save the film, but this dark change in pace is still expected. The characters are an enjoyable ragtag bunch who are having fun on screen, but offer nothing in terms of caring for them. This film is just very, middle of the road and straight shooting. But that’s fine because it makes for an entertaining viewing, just not as good as films released earlier this year.

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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