Quick Hit: Taking everything that the original did well, and arguably making it better.
Let me come out and say this right now before I continue to go forward with may not be a popular opinion – I don’t like the decision to take this into the States, and to make the bad guy an evil American capitalist. I missed the bandits, and I missed the random bad guy who is just stealing money and food as opposed to land. That being said, I understand the reason they did so – they were trying to modernize it, because there aren’t too many bandits running around now, and people understand greedy rich guys trying to own land.
That being out of the way, I think that this is a better movie than the original, something that pains me to say.
The main reason? The movie is just more exciting, and has an even better cast. The movie stars Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio. It also contains Byung-hun Lee, Manual Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier to round out the seven. This movie has an extreme diversity of cast, and it’s nice to see that the movie doesn’t make a big deal of it (despite the fact that the media does). Instead, it allows the quiet moments to tell the story of the men.
I really, really liked the cast and how they worked together. They did an excellent job of meshing and their comedic timing is often perfect. What surprised me the most is just how much I felt like Chris Pratt was hanging on the outside of the film. It’s almost like he was meant to stick out from the film (maybe he was, meant to be a classic “Outsider” type). It’s not until he performs his final redeeming end that you feel like he belongs with the other men.
Those other men are just a thrill to watch. Ethan Hawke has one of his best characters as Goodnight Robicheaux. A man who is suffering from obvious PTSD from the civil war, he is struggling with the deomns of all the things that have turned him into a legend. The comradery that shows between him and Billy Rocks (Lee) is terrific. It’s also fun to see the former Indian killer Jack Horne (D’Onofrio) and the dynamic with Red Harvest (Sensmeier). I didn’t love D’Onofrio’s voice when I first heard it, but now I feel like it was an integral part of the character.
Denzel, once again, shows why he is the best kind of star. Every moment he is on screen he is somehow bigger than the moment. His show down at the end with Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is terrifically drawn out and tense. I really liked this role. And damned if that man doesn’t look great in all black on a horse. I almost feel like this movie is stealing some thunder from the upcoming Dark Tower film starring Idris Elba.
The best part of the movie though is not the actors, surprising. It’s the way the action scenes are put together. Thought the geography of the final fight falls apart instantly, because you can almost never tell how people are getting from one point to the next, you can tell that director Antoine Fuqua has some experience as an action director. Every scene is violent and yet strangely terse, with only the final scene dragging out longer than is necessary. When allowed to focus on the incredible gun feats that these men perform, it’s an extremely entertaining show.
My least favorite part of the movie was the way that Emma Cullen’s character (played by the great Haley Bennett) plays out. For ninety percent of the movie, she shows a transformation into a strong, independent woman that will fight for what is hers, and not be pushed down by men. She doesn’t devolve into a love interest, but instead shows herself a capable killer and rifle shot. BUT… in the final scene she is written into a poorly executed damsel in distress role that completely sends her back to where she was at the beginning of the film. This bait and switch feminism is an example of a writer writing a scene instead of a movie, and it was the worst part.
Well, that and the fact that one of the most fun characters, Manual Garcia-Rulfo’s Vasquez, somehow disappears for large stretches of the movie when a joke is not necessary. I wasn’t a fan of that either.
It doesn’t diminish much though from a movie that is pretty good and very entertaining. I’m giving the Magnificent Seven remake an “B+ “.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"