The Magnificent Seven Review

The Magnificent Seven

2016 is shaping up to be the year of the remake.

We’ve had a new Ghostbusters that should haunt sony, the needless rebirth of a cgi enhanced Ben-hur and now there’s The Magnificent Seven.

And though these rebooted pickings are slimmer than Christian Bale gearing up for his next oscar winning performance, Antoine Fuqua’s re-imagined classic western looks like being the pick of the bunch.

The opening scene sets the tone, as we’re reintroduced to america’s wild west.

Making a living for yourself in these frontier days is no simple feat, and the good folk of some village I can’t quite remember the name of have been toiling to turn their land into a prosperous community.

Only problem is once you’ve turned your one horse town into a profitable stable, you might just attract the wrong sort of attention to your previously ignored homestead.

Which is where Bartholomew Bogue steps in, a ruthless businessman with a veritable army of men at his disposable.

Bogue does what the rich have always done; buying off the authorities before ripping off any decent, working folk who stand in the way of his latest money making scheme.

And the few locals who aren’t afraid to stand up to Bogue swiftly find themselves lying down, six feet under.

If only there was a rag tag collection of maverick rebels the remaining town folk could hire to take Bogue on at his own game.

It’d really help if one of them had a personal interest in bringing Bogue to justice; and if there were seven of them, who all happened to be pretty magnificent, that’d be just dandy.

Hard as it may be for some to believe, myself included, I’m actually too young to remember the first Magnificent Seven film.

Which is why I brought my old man along with me for this new ride, and it turns out quite a bit has changed since the original seven were in the saddle.

The spirit’s the same, as are the general characters even if the names have changed, and there’s one recycled joke that pays homage to the original.

But it seems as though plenty of new stuff has been brought to The Magnificent Seven, which isn’t surprising given Nic Pizzolatto – aka the man behind True Detective – is the latest writer to adapt Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai screenplay.

Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke lead the cast, with Peter Sarsgaard on villainous duty, and everything’s executed exceedingly well.

I just don’t know who this new Magnificent Seven is for.

Much as I love a modern western, I’m not sure younger generations do, so I imagine the core audience for this would be people old enough to remember the original.

And yet the first Magnificent Seven was a classic, with an all-star cast full of cinematic heroes, so old school fans aren’t likely to buy into this new incarnation either.

What we’re left with is an odd vanity project that didn’t need to be made, that probably means more to the folk behind it than any new audience who might watch it.

The Magnificent Seven is about as well made as a remake can be, I just wish studios put as much thought and money into creating original films as they do resurrecting classics they can’t really improve upon.

Jonathan Campbell

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September 2016
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