There is something “old-school” about The Magnificent Seven. Not the fact it is a Western, although that does seem novel at a time when Westerns are quite rare in Hollywood, especially close to the blockbuster season. Magnificent Seven is old-school for another reason – it is a bold, fun action movie.
There isn’t anything about The Magnificent Seven which takes itself too seriously, which feels quite rare in the movie schedules. It tells a straight-forward story with very good characters, played by great actors, who get a lot of cool stunts and impressive action. If you want a popcorn-movie, mindless but entertaining, The Magnificent Seven is it.
It is aware of this from the outset as well. The villain is a mustache-twirling classic bad guy, who isn’t “misunderstood” but just plain nasty. The hero isn’t an anti-hero with a shady past but an out-and-out good guy, who wants to do the best for the downtrodden. It helps that this person is played by Denzel Washington.
Washington is effortless as leader Chisolm. He oozes cool and is as charismatic as ever. Considering he is getting on in age, Washington still holds himself in the action scenes and gives the other big star in the line-up a run for his money.
Chris Pratt could well have stolen the movie and it isn’t for lack of trying. Magnificent Seven continues to cement his status as a bona-fide action star and Pratt manages to get some of the coolest moments, best lines and memorable scenes. It is testament to how well the film is put together and the characters written that Pratt and Washington don’t make the movie just about them.
The rest of the cast is great. Vincent D’Onofrio continues to impress with his post-Daredevil performances, while Byung-hun Lee makes knife-wielding Billy Rocks one of the better characters. It is even a team-up for the Training Day duo, with Ethan Hawke playing Goodnight Robicheaux. It is unfortunate that such a great actor as Hawke doesn’t get to flesh out and explore what is clearly a deeper character but The Magnificent Seven is filled to the brim with cast, each with their own issues, traits and mini-stories to play-out.
That also means that Peter Sarsgaard’s villain is slightly lacking too. He is present at the beginning and at the end but never makes the desired impact you’d hope considering the amount of promise those early scenes demonstrate. You can forgive his slight under-written part when the rest of the movie is so fun though.
Magnificent Seven ensures it is always fun. At a time when Westerns are returning to grittier, realistic and a harsher tone, Magnificent Seven manages to show that gunslingers and shoot-outs can also be fun.
Overall, The Magnificent Seven is good, old-fashioned movie fun. It has great action, a simple-plot with likable heroes and a classic villain. It is full of a great cast, each who get their time to shine, while remembering that Westerns can also be fun as well as serious. Maybe it took a remake of a classic to bring that message home.
Rating – 3.5
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