The past few years have been packed with remakes and reboots of all sorts of classics, and not many of them have turned out to be very original. The Magnificent Seven, unfortunately, is lacking of the originality I expected from a similar yet distinct remake. This film feels a lot more like a re-imagination than a remake, as the only thing kept from the original is the concept. In The Magnificent Seven, a group of seven men (as the title suggests) are hired by a woman to avenge her husband’s death, so they set out against a corrupt industrialist and his ruthless army. Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and Ethan Hawke lead the cast as mercenaries fighting for righteousness. Having seen the original Magnificent Seven starring Yul Brynner, I can say I am satisfied in terms of a remake like this one. The directing is mostly on-point, with impressive cinematography and entertaining action. The score from the late James Horner, who was tragically killed last year in a plane crash, is a great one for his last. My main problem with the film is that despite the film’s efforts to take its concept to a new place, new isn’t the right word to describe this film. Everything feels to familiar and tacked on. The story feels cliched but it also loses itself in the third act. One thing I noticed was how over-the-top everything was, from the dialogue to the story to the performances. The dialogue is too obvious and the humor unsuccessful, and none of the jokes seem to hit their mark. Denzel Washington doesn’t get much to work with besides a handful of guns loaded with bullets. Chris Pratt delivers an underwhelming performance as a constantly joking character who seems to be the most over-the-top of the cast, as well as Vincent D’Onofrio and Ethan Hawke who make jokes out of their performances. Some of the characters could have been more interesting, if only they had more development. One thing that isn’t surprising, as a film released in the 21st century, is that everything is too over-dramatized and it doesn’t flow as well as it did in the ’60s when it was directed by John Sturges. The final battle is an epic shootout between armies of heroes and villains but ultimately drags for too long. I’ve come to love the Western genre more every time I watch a Western film. Get a good story and script, and you can even make a perfect one today (see True Grit, Django Unchained, and The Hateful Eight). However, it’s difficult to work with one that lacks originality and reliability on anything but lengthy action sequences. Perhaps this film would have been better if it wasn’t limited to a strong PG-13 rating, and was written by someone more reliable in the world of Hollywood (yes, I’m thinking about Tarantino, even though he wouldn’t ever sign up for something even twice as original as this).
The Magnificent Seven is a fun Western action film directed solidly by Antoine Fuqua, but not much more. It tends to slow down, the attempts at comedy always miss, and everything feels way too over-the-top and out of place. I wouldn’t recommend this one for a watch in theaters, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it for most of its runtime, despite its major problems.