By Miles Barber (CE ‘18)
The Magnificent Seven, remake of the 1960 film of the same name (which was itself a remake of the 1956 Japanese film Seven
Samurai), tells the story of seven gunslingers and knife-throwers who band together to defend a small western town from a ruthless capitalist named Bartholomew Bogue. The first scene in the film sets up the stakes and throws the film into motion as Bogue visits this town, leaving many dead and the rest terrified to stand up to him without some help.
They find that help in the form of seven men including Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington), Joshua Faraday (Chris Pratt), and Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) around whom the film centers. Most of them have unique personalities that help you distinguish each one on more than just a physical level, making them more memorable. The performances, however, vary in authenticity. Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke give the only performances that felt like they actually belonged in this old-style western. Coincidentally, their characters, Sam Chisholm and Goodnight Robicheaux, are the only ones with real backstories, as they have some history in the Civil War. Chris Pratt’s Joshua Faraday seemed like he was trying way too hard to mix his “wild west” cowboy character with his character from Guardians of the Galaxy. The result was a performance that was quite fun, but just felt a little out of place in the film.
Performances aside, the film did a great job on a narrative level. Each facet of this straightforward tale makes sense as events lead into each other. The two shootout scenes in the film are very intense, featuring some truly fantastic stunts, many great practical effects, and some hilarious moments.
On a technical level, the film was also quite good. The mountainous landscape is perfectly captured in some beautiful shots that really show off not just the natural beauty of the area but also how great it looks at night. There are a couple shots of distant clouds around dusk that just make you appreciate how amazing the Midwest looks. The final confrontation is also beautifully captured in a mix of wides and closeups to show off both the stunts and the scope. Add in a great score by James Horner (sadly passed) and Simon Franglen and you have a pretty well-made western.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven is a well-made film that proves a worthy remake of the 1956 film. It adds little new content, its characters are a little thin, and Chris Pratt’s humor may be a little out of place, but the music, cinematography, and intensity of this film make it worth your time. ◊