American Graffiti’s review of Antoine Fuqua’s remake of the classic western “The Magnificent Seven”
By Carter Bagley
Right when I heard about this film being made I was immediately interested. Antoine Fuqua can be a very capable filmmaker when he wants to be and has made some great films like “Training Day” and “Southpaw”. Old westerns don’t always appeal to me but when they’re done right they can be very entertaining and memorable classics like “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid” or even recent ones like “3:10 To Yuma” or “Django Unchained”. When Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke were then announced as the lead actors I became even more intrigued as Antoine Fuqua’s directing and the chemistry between Hawke and Washington was what made “Training Day” such a great character. That’s pretty much where the A-list star power ends though as the rest of the cast is either rounded out by newcomers (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier), rising stars (Haley Bennett, Matt Bomer, and Luke Grimes) or character actors (Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, and Byung-Hun Lee). The basic premise of the film is much like the original with an old western town being threatened by a bad man so they hire seven gunslingers to bring justice to the town. The plots been done numerous times over in films like Seven Samurai and various other films over time, although what separates this film from the original of the same name is the characters are different. Fuqua gathered a surprisingly ethnically diverse cast compared to most films made these days and also made it work into the story and the time period and I commend him for that. Denzel plays the lead role of Sam Chisolm and does an amazing job as he always does and is probably the character you care for the most. Whenever he’s in a film you just know he’s going to play a respectable badass character besides maybe a few roles. Chisolm is recruited by a lady named Emma Cullen (Bennett) to kill a man named Bartholomew Bogue who murdered her husband and took over her town. Chisolm then recruits the drunk gambler Josh Farraday (Pratt) to aid him in his mission if he pays to get Farraday’s horse back. They soon join with Chisolm’s old friend the legendary confederate sharpshooter nicknamed Goodnight (Hawke) and his good friend the assassin Billy Rocks (Lee) and soon the rest of the crew. After an awesome standoff they rally the town together to fight against Bogue’s army for control of their town. Chris Pratt plays a very similar character to those he’s played before but stills win you over with charisma and one-liners. Ethan Hawke actually brings a good presence to the film as his character deals with personal demons and insecurities and his relationship with Byung-Hun Lee’s character feels genuine. Vincent D’Onofrio is always very entertaining as well as he plays the quirky, and grizzly tracker Jack Horne and actually steals quite a few scenes because he’s just outrageously over the top at many parts. The real actor to talk about here though is Sarsgaard as Bogue. Peter Sarsgaard is very seedy and disturbingly wicked as this corrupt man who’s trying to control America’s blossoming industry. He was a surprisingly memorable villain for a film like this and surprised me. On the bad side however a few of the characters got little to no development. Manuel Garcia-Rulfo plays the mexican outlaw named Vasquez and although we’re told he’s a lot of trouble and a notorious outlaw it never really shows us this. The Comanche Warrior character named Red Harvest (Sensmeier) had a handful of badass fighting scenes but in the end I knew completely nothing about the character. There were also a few moments in the film where I found myself asking “Wait..what?” and it never really got explained. It mentions and builds up anticipation for Chisolm’s motives for killing Bogue then at the end the reveal in kinda disappointing and not worth it. Other than that though the film was a funny and action-packed adventure is downright pure fun entertainment. I think if you’re a fan of westerns or action-adventures in general you’ll definitely find some entertainment in “The Magnificent Seven”.