How does The Magnificent Seven stack up against the 1960 hit? Read on for our movie review:I realize it’s not fair to compare a modern remake of one of the greatest westerns to its source. By default, it’s almost guaranteed to be a letdown by not matching the perfect balance of charisma, western action and epic music. This is not John Sturges’ Magnificent Seven or even Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. This is Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven and it’s exactly what you might expect from the director of such overblown action spectacles of Olympus Has Fallen and The Equalizer.
As a big fan of western, Fuqua attempts to not stray too far from the same beats of the original, but attempts to give the picture his own mark. He assembles a cast more diverse with the additions of Denzel Washington, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier, with a strong supporting role by Haley Bennett. They fight alongside notable stars Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and Vincent D’Onofrio. Together they make up a colorful ensemble of western heroes that put aside any prejudice they may have to save a town from the sinister Peter Sarsgaard.
But Fuqua seems to ignore the racial tensions of the times as the gang becomes chummy quite quickly. The bitterness of wars between whites, Mexicans, Native Americans and African Americans seems to not affect these boys past a few nudging slurs and passive mentions of past atrocities. Fuqua must realize that such exploration of character is too deep for The Magnificent Seven as he favors witty quips over character development. They’re funny quips, mind you, but they almost become annoying in how their ribbing comments are the sole force of their own charisma.
It’s not until much later in the movie when there is an attempt to give these characters a little backstory and a drive past the money they’ll receive for such a job. I don’t know why Denzel Washington’s character needed a tacked-on revenge motif late in the third act. The Man With No Name never needed such baggage to be cool enough to hold a picture. If the movie really wanted to go this route, I would have preferred if there were more fleshing out of all the characters rather than passively decorating them with pathos. It wouldn’t surprise me if the undefined characters of Pratt and Sensmeier briefly mention they both had wives that were killed by outlaws just before the movie ends.
What Fuqua lacks in character, he overcompensates with the most explosive and violent action seen in any modern western. Pistols and rifles go off in all directions as multitudes of bodies are shot up and fall off horses. A plethora of dynamite quakes the fields with furiously loud explosions, sending men and horses flying.
A Gatling gun lays waste to the town with whizzing bullets that slice through buildings and bodies. Knives are stabbed into chests, arrows shot into hearts and tomahawks thrown into backs. The final battle turns into such a loud and brutal bloodbath I had to wonder if Fuqua wasn’t actually rebooting The Wild Bunch. Seeing this in IMAX with a blaring 7.1 soundtrack started to give me a headache for the relentless action that never seemed to stop, nearly reaching Michael Bay levels of strain.
Read more to get the rest of the movie review for The Magnificent Seven and watch the trailer: