Sunday, October 02, 2016

The Magnificent Seven

              More like the Magnificent bore, this unnecessary remake is two hours of setup for a 10 minute one sided shootout. It's an excuse for Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia Ruflo and Martin Semsmeier to play cowboy.

              Director Antoine Fuqua throws in almost every western cliche in the book in an attempt to recall the golden days of westerns and while the film looks great, the story lacks the gravitas of the original western (based itself, on the Japanese film, "The Seven Samurai") and any depth of character.  The seven heroes are stereotypes that give us no reason to cheer them on except for the pre-conceived notion that we should because they are, after all, the "Magnificent 7".

               Peter Sarsgaard chews the scenery as the villainous Bartholomew Bogue and Haley Bennet is Emma, the widow who hires Mr. Washington and crew to save her town. Ms. Bennet has the final word as the only fully realized character in the film. For two hours plus, our heroes, with almost no backstory, are introduced, give each other steely eyed stares, twirl their revolvers and set up the inevitable gun fight against overwhelming odds. Of course every bullet fired brings down a "bad guy" instantly so the odds are actually in our heroes favor.

             Anyone who has seen the original western will recognize one of the greatest movie themes in history (by the late Elmer Bernstein). I kept waiting for that theme to rouse me out of my stupor but Mr. Fuqua commissioned an original score to separate his vision, so even that was a letdown.  Thankfully, he does resurrect it for the closing credits, which only serves to remind you that the film has been done much better before. Twice, in fact so seek those versions out for true movie magic.

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