Review: The Magnificent Seven Misses The Mark But Not By Much
Title: The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Summary: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.
The western is a genre that Hollywood keeps trying to bring back because it remembers a time when making a western would print money at the box office. However, one of the lessons that Hollywood has not learned is that modern movies are much different than they were back in the day. The budgets are bigger which means you need to get more people to see the film to break even. The remake is also the way of Hollywood these days so it was only a matter of time before another classic was re-made.
The Magnificent Seven might not be an instant classic but it takes the good and bad parts of a western and modernizes them for a current blockbuster audience.
The parts of westerns that tend to drag is that they are often paced very slowly. It’s not uncommon for a western to break the two and a half hour mark and spend half of that time with set up. The Magnificent Seven does that but it also remembers that a long running time with a lack of action can be forgiven when you’re interested in the people. The various characters are all entertaining, and while some of the seven get more development than others they all feel like complete human beings that are interesting to watch interact.
All of the actors are well suited to their roles but some are better than others. Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt are both doing the same thing they both tend to do with their roles which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not as interesting. It’s Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio that I was the most impressed with. Hawke has been on an interesting career path these last few years and it’s much more fun to watch him be a character actor than an action hero. D’Onofrio once again displays his huge range by barely being recognizable under a huge beard and weird personality quirks. He steals every scene that he’s in.
The action is serviceable and they even find ways to bring in lots of explosions into the final gunfight, but there were just a few things that kept it from being anything other than ‘pretty good’. Several of the seven don’t get full character arcs and they don’t explore the inherent racism that exists when they have such a diverse cast of characters. There are people that comment on it, but considering there is an African American, a Latino, an Asian and a Native American in the seven it felt like people were much more okay with it than you would expect. This isn’t a movie for social commentary though; that’s what Django Unchained was for. There are also lulls in the pacing that felt a little off, but a western is long so I expected them.
The Magnificent Seven is a pretty good movie and could clean up in the box office in September with virtually no competition. There are enough laughs and action beats that the modern audience is going to enjoy it but I don’t see it bringing back the western to its former box office glory.