“The Magnificent Seven” is directed by Antoine Fuqua and it stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier as seven outlaws in the Old West who unite as one group to help in liberating a small town that has been overtaken by a corrupt industrialist played by Peter Sarsgaard. This movie is actually a remake of a 1960 Western film of the same name and that in turn was also a remake of 1954’s “Seven Samurai”. Having not seen either of those two movies, I went into this movie only knowing that it had the potential to be a fun movie, the only thing possibly holding it back being the director.
I’m personally not a big fan of Antoine Fuqua’s movies. I liked both “Training Day” and “Southpaw”, but I just don’t like any of his other movies outside of those two. But I was still more than willing to go into this movie with an optimistic outlook. All I wanted was a fun Western action movie that could entertain me two hours and I’m now thankful that I ended up with exactly that.
The cast of this movie is packed with talented, likable actors who all give good, entertaining performances with this particular film. Denzel Washington is the clear badass leader of the group, Chris Pratt plays the second in command as the character with the most going on in terms being something other than a guy who just likes to blow stuff up, and supporting stars like Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, and especially Lee Byung-hun have their standout moments as extremely entertaining, funny characters who all share a fun camaraderie with one another. The characters all had their own badass moments and you could tell that all of the actors were having fun with their roles, so that’s worth some praise for this movie.
The one performance that I wasn’t a big fan of, though, was that of Peter Sarsgaard as the main villain, Bartholomew Bogue. His performance in this movie is basically just him sweating heavily, twitching, and looking like he’s about to thrown up every time he talks. If that’s how Fuqua directed Sarsgaard, then I guess I can’t put all of the blame on the latter, but it was still a performance that felt spazzy, for lack of a better term. And it certainly doesn’t help that the character himself felt weak in terms of being a villain. He’s just one of those “I’m evil because the script says so” type of bad guys and I just can’t get invested in something as weak as that.
But back to being positive about this movie, this is essentially all the fun that could expect from a movie like this, it being an action-packed Western. Earlier this year, we had a modern Western in “Hell or High Water”, one of the best films of the entire year so far. While that movie is obviously more well made in regards to film-making, “The Magnificent Seven” succeeds in taking us back to the Wild West where there’s shootouts and gun-slinging every 10 seconds. As a matter of fact, this movie can be seen as a Western version of a superhero movie.
The action in this movie is great, with long sweeping shots and well filmed stunts to where you can see everything happening. And referring back to my superhero-Western comparison, this movie has stuff you’d see in something like “The Avengers” movies. A big group of badasses fighting off a dispensable army in a totally unrealistic and carefree way, but it still makes for a fun watch. I didn’t walk into this movie expecting a complex story, realism, or high quality film-making, so it goes without saying that I got what I payed for.
But one other negative towards this movie is that as fun and entertaining as it is, this movie occasionally tries to build character, but it’s the setup and forced introductions that hindered the first act. Most of the characters get an intro and a backstory of sorts, but not all of it feels like it was executed very smoothly, nor did it even feel 100% necessary. It’s just these parts in the first act that harm the movie, but everything after that is pure fun and adrenaline.
In the end, “The Magnificent Seven” is an imperfect movie, but it’s still a fun one that knows what it is. The cast works great together, the action is entertaining as hell, and it harkens back to when Westerns were just pure fun with all of their over-the-top shootout glory. I give major props to Antoine Fuqua for making this movie as enjoyable as it was, and I think most moviegoers will appreciate it as a good two hours to spend at the theater.