REVIEW: The Magnificent Seven

Review by Dustin Heller

The Magnificent Seven is a new Western film starring Denzel Washington and directed by Antoine Fuqua.  Fuqua and Washington have quite a history together as they also worked together on the fabulous The Equalizer and also Training Day, the latter of which earned Denzel the Best Actor Oscar that year.  The Magnificent Seven was written by Nic Pizzolatto, the creator of the amazing HBO series True Detective.

The film is a sort of a remake of a remake, the 1960 film of the same name was originally a remake of the 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai.  Along with Denzel, the cast includes Chris Pratt, Ethan HawkeVincent D’OnofrioLee Byung-hunManuel Garcia-RulfoMartin SensmeierHaley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard.  The movie is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.

The small town of Rose Creek has been over taken by industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, who is strong-arming the citizens to sell their land for pennies on the dollar as he mines for gold.  Upon witnessing her husband murdered in cold blood by Bogue, Emma Cullen enlists the help of Bounty Hunter Sam Chisolm to help her take back the town.

In order to fight this impossible battle, Chisolm puts together a motley crew of men from all different backgrounds who have something and yet nothing to gain.  These seven men, led by Chisolm, head into Rose Creek and begin to train the locals on the art of battle.  With only seven days to prepare for Bogue’s army, the seven gunslingers along with the entire town must come up with a game plan to pull off a miraculous feat.

The Magnificent Seven is in the business of killing, and business is good!  It’s like watching a Tarantino flick without all the blood and gore.  The body count has to be on par with the great Stallone and Schwarzenegger blood baths of the 80s and 90s.  As for the movie itself, it is a genuine throwback to the old-time Westerns, complete with some pretty intense showdowns and a great Wild West score.  Although it’s not necessarily billed as a comedy, the movie is actually quite funny at times, and a lot of it felt like it was meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek.

The entire cast is great and had amazing on-screen chemistry, but the real star for me was Vincent D’Onofrio, who stole every scene he was in.  Also worth noting is Peter Sarsgaard’s turn as the villain; he was fantastic.  As much as I wanted to love the movie, it just took way too long to get off the ground and the final battle seemed to go on forever.

Although it wasn’t perfect, it is nice to have a new Western in theaters, especially one that is so well done, but The Magnificent Seven just missed the mark of being true classic.

Grade:  B-

The Magnificent Seven opens in theaters on Friday, September 23.