Based on the 1956 Japanese film The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven is an action packed western. The genre saw its zenith during the early to late 20th century, with cinema making stars of silver screen cowboys like John Wayne. Its popularity has petered out since the 90s with only a few making many box office dollars.
Taking its cue from the well-known 1960 version with Yul Brynner and company, The Magnificent Seven shows there is still life in the western genre as gun-slingers take aim at viewers’ imaginations.
Rose Krick, a town in the 1870s, is under the heavy-handed control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Tired of his vile ways, the residents enlist the help of seven outlaws, including Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and Josh (Chris Pratt). Paying them top dollar for protection, the citizens hope to be rid of the crime that’s plaguing their community. The seven outlaws quickly integrate themselves into the fray as bullets swiftly fly in a battle for a town’s soul.
Antoine Fuqua directs as if he’s a boy in a toy store. Clearly a fan of the Western genre, he grasps the many possibilities. Whilst some clichés creep in, Fuqua’s flair for pacing and filming action make it seem fresh. That’s a good achievement considering The Magnificent Seven is yet another remake. What Fuqua does is to immerse himself into the strongly-written characters and situations. His enthusiasm clearly comes across as the actors and startling cinematography do justice to the story.
The Magnificent Seven excels in being an action spectacle but also an enjoyable blockbuster. It knows it won’t win many awards for originality and so instead goes full throttle in creating genuine tension with very hiss-able villains. The performers match their roles well with all having a grand time recreating the western films of yore. Their character’s personal dynamics are expressed well, making for an interesting backdrop from the explosive hi-jinks.
If you don’t grumble too much about it being a remake, then The Magnificent Seven is entertaining viewing. On its own merits it has a consistent high quality in all areas most other recent films lack. It’s escapist nonsense of esteemed calibre sure to leave audiences breathless by its furious finale.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 8
The Magnificent Seven will be released on Blu-ray and DVD from 30 November 2016.
This review was first published on 26 September 2016 for the cinema release.