Review 269: Magnificent Seven (2016)
I recently watched Training Day for the first time and was definitely looking forward to the Hawke/Washington reunion. The Magnificent Seven is based on Seven Samurai and the original Magnificent Seven. I know that, but I’ve never seen either of the other films. That said, I enjoyed a lot about the movie, but it wasn’t perfect. I give The Magnificent Seven the Not Quite Golden, Ponyboy rating.
After the ruthless killing of some of the townspeople, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) seeks out gunmen to help protect the town. With the help of Chisolm (Denzel Washington), they recruit six other gunmen who help prepare the town to fight back.
Chisolm was strong and had some great action moments. He was noble yet firm and not afraid to go up against the odds. He encounters Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) rather early and team up to help Emma. The characters split up with the goal of recruiting Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). It’s not long before they add Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). They set off to prepare to take on Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his army who want the land for its gold.
The film brings laughs and action together multiple times. Pratt definitely brings his share of humor, but D’Onofrio was probably my favorite part. His character, a giant bear of a man, has several quirkier personality traits. His interaction with most of the other characters is odd and makes for some funny moments. I also found Hawke’s performance to be outstanding. However, there is a moment where he screams in frustration that wasn’t quite believable for me. Sarsgaard felt a bit over the top with his villain performance. His introduction had him set the church of the town on fire to prove a point. His speech about land and dust isn’t very compelling and felt a little pointless.
Why it’s not a Must See
The movie does feel unnecessarily long. Seven Samurai is almost four hours long, but I assume there is ample character development. Most of the characters in The Magnificent Seven rely on the charm of their actors to make the audience care for them. Fortunately, there was plenty of charm, but very little back story on most of the characters. We learn some about Chisolm, Goodnight, and Horne yet, the other four characters feel as though we should just accept the history. I did, but it’s definitely a weak point in the film. It’s not surprising given the ensemble cast, but there are a few passing references to their pasts that qualify as exposition.
Even with the flaws, I found myself very engrossed in the film. I wanted the villain to pay. I wanted the heroes to be successful in their mission. I wanted the townspeople to be free of this maniacal gold digger. I laughed and felt like I was a part of the group. Yet, as a film person I definitely found myself questioning choices, rolling my eyes, and disappointed when plot points weren’t developed farther than their introductions. I do think this film is one to see on the big screen as the vast setting of the old west looks better large.