Director: Antoine Fuqua
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-Hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
Plot: When a ruthless industrialist terrorises a small town, they hire seven men to help them defend it.
Review: I had watched the original Magnificent Seven last week, which is itself a remake of The Seven Samurai, and found it to be more dialogue driven than action driven, something that director Antoine Fuqua remedies here. There is definitely more action in this remake, and a decent amount of drama too.
The story is essentially the same. In this case, the town of Rose Creek is being terrorised by Bartholomew Bogue, a man who wants the gold mine nearby and threatens the people to sell him their land for a cheap price, or else. Emma Cullen, whose husband was killed by Bogue just for standing up to him, and her friend Teddy Q, seek help and run into Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter, who proceeds to collect other willing men to assist in their cause. This includes gambler Faraday, Chisolm's old friend Robicheaux, Robicheaux's knife-wielding friend Billy Rocks, tracker Jack Horne, Comanche warrior Red Harvest and Vasquez, an outlaw Chisolm was supposed to capture, but offers him a chance to do some good instead.
From a technical standpoint, Fuqua and company score full marks. Cinematography is beautiful, set design and costumes are spot on, and the late James Horner's score is good too, with the original's theme being used from time to time. As mentioned, Fuqua puts in much more action than the original, allowing each member of the seven to shine in their own way while trimming out the fat that filled most of the first half in the 1960 version. This works better in keeping the film flowing smoothly, but on the flipside, the seven don't spend enough time connecting with the townsfolk, except Emma and Teddy Q who get to stand out the most. As for the action, it is well shot and choreographed. The skirmish between the seven and Bogue's men in the middle third was good, and the final fight is just balls to the wall stuff.
The cast perform to expectations, with Denzel Washington being the leading man he always is. His Chisolm is a serious man with good leadership skills, contrasting Chris Pratt's charming gambler quite well. Pratt plays Faraday almost like Star-Lord, minus the personal baggage. Ethan Hawke's Robicheaux is interesting, being a little like Robert Vaughn's Lee in the original, hesitant about fighting and killing after seeing so much of it. It's a role that requires depth and Hawke pulls it off. Vincent D'Onofrio gets to chew the scenery as tracker Jack Horne while Lee Byung-Hun's Billy is obviously inspired by James Coburn's Britt in the original, but with more lines. I personally liked Manuel Garcia-Rulfo's Vasquez, being somewhat an out-of-the-box choice as a member. Same goes for Martin Sensmeier's Red Harvest, though he doesn't stand out as much as Manuel. Fuqua's Seven is definitely one that is updated for the times and not as whitewashed as the original, which is a welcome change.
Haley Bennett, last seen in Fuqua's The Equalizer, shines as Emma Cullen, who holds her own against her more famous co-stars. Peter Sarsgaard makes a good villain as Bogue, but doesn't get enough time on screen to be truly memorable, which is a pity.
Another thing worth mentioning is Fuqua making several nods to the original, borrowing certain dialogues or scenes and inserting them here. If you've seen the original you would know which and where.
Overall, the remake of The Magnificent Seven is a very fun western movie, which would be even better if Sensmeier and Sarsgaard weren't underused. I enjoyed it for what it was, and wouldn't mind seeing it again soon. (8/10)