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The Magnificent Seven

The Magnificent Seven

Released 23 September 2016
Director Antoine Fuqua

Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
Writer(s) Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto
Producer(s) Roger Birnbaum, Todd Black
Origin United States
Running Time 133 minutes
Genre Action, western
Rating 12A

The Mild West.

It may be a bit unfair to call a remake derivative but The Magnificent Seven doesn't have much to go on in terms of story. For those who have seen the original classic Western (or indeed the Japanese source The Seven Samurai) the tale will of course be familiar but it will also feel a tad familiar for anyone who has seen any narrative Hollywood film over the last fifty years. Some good folk come up against a fiendish bad guy and call in the help of a rag-tag group of vigilantes. Tale as old as time. For this version, director Antoine Fuqua has kept it pretty straightforward and in doing so has produced a Western that is unremarkable, at times lumbering and strangely softened from its roots.

The place in peril is Rose Creek, a small mining town besieged by industrialist Batholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his army of mercenaries. When Bogue begins killing off those townspeople who refuse to sell him their land, widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) gathers what money she can to hire a group of men who will stand up to Bogue. She finds bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who agrees to form a posse; Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Together with the inexperienced locals, the team prepare for an epic standoff on the streets of Rose Creek.

This stand-off is the film's one trump card. Fuqua is a talented director of action and the non-stop chaos of the final act is genuinely exciting and surprising. Up until this point however, the pacing is distinctly uneven. As Washington travels the frontier in search of his crew, there are frequent scenes that, quite frankly, feel like filler as various cast members have their “emotional moment”. Instead of a rough, tough band of dirty outlaws, we have suave, good guys who love to get all touchy-feely. It's like The Wild Bunch never happened!

Now that's not to say that the cast (bar an annoyingly pleased with himself Chris Pratt) aren't impressive. Washington fits in beautifully to this landscape and cuts a fine figure in his black duds – it would be hard to find a better leading man. The rest of the seven may not have much to do (or much in the way of insightful dialogue) but they do their best and look good whilst doing it. The beautiful cinematography and lovely score ultimately can't compensate for a film that, siege aside, is a rather dull ramble around the West.

- Linda O'Brien