(director: Antoine Fuqua; screenwriters: Richard Wenk/Nic Pizzolatto; cinematographer: Mauro Fiore; editor: John Refoua; music: James Horner/Simon Franglen; cast: Haley Bennett ( Emma Cullen), Denzel Washington (Sam Chisolm), Peter Sarsgaard (Bartholomew Bogue), Vincent D’Onofrio (Jack Horne), Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux), Byung-Hun Lee (Billy Rocks), Chris Pratt (Josh Farraday), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Vasquez), Martin Sensmeier (Red Harvest), Matt Bomer (Mr. Cullen); Runtime: 132; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Roger Birnbaum/Todd Black; Sony Pictures;  2016)

“An undistinguished remake of the 1960 iconic lighthearted macho western starring Yul Brynner.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This Magnificent Seven film is more OK than magnificent. It’s an undistinguished remake of the 1960 iconic lighthearted macho western starring Yul Brynner and directed by John Sturges. That film was a weaker but still a satisfactory remake inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s masterpiece called The Seven Samurai (1954). Director Antoine Fuqua (“Southpaw”/”The Equalizer”) is wrapped up in the action being lively and tries to freshen the plot up by making the robber baron villain a figure likened to a modern-day evil greedy corporate CEO figure, who is involved with a ruthless illegal business operation that the government lets go on. Under writers Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolattoare and the safe direction of Fuqua, the film though adequately entertaining is pointless and sterile. Its rallying cry for diversity seems forced and its mercenary heroes scenario of self-sacrifice has been fully played out in the other features much better than here.

In 1879, the western mining town of Rose Creek is ruled by the absentee industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who schemes to rob the land of the poor farmers to mine for gold. His hired hands are gunslingers who control the town. At a  church meeting, the ruthless bully opines on God, capitalism and democracy being the same thing and reacts violently when a few locals speak out against him. They get gunned down in cold-blood by his hired guns. Bogue’s men also torch the church. When feisty frontier woman Emma Cullen’s (Haley Bennett) husband (Matt Bomer) is one of those killed, she seeks revenge and hires the clad in all black, black bounty hunter from Kansas, Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), to fight against Bogue’s overwhelming army. Sam travels the area and manages to get six other diverse misfit recruits for this mission impossible. They are the cocky boozer gambler Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), the squeaky-voiced mountain trapper Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), the Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), the knife expert Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), the rogue Comanche Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), and the traumatized Civil War sharpshooter vet Goodnight (Ethan Hawke).

The film drags until the climax battle by cutting between the uninteresting mercenaries and the even more uninteresting locals preparing for battle. Bogue returns with an army from California, after being away for three weeks. He plans to take back the town from the mercenaries, who killed his 22 gunslingers guarding the town for him. He also plans on killing all the farmers to make it a ghost town. The battle scene is well-executed, but the film badly missteps when in the end it gives Denzel a rationale for taking on the fight. His reason makes his heroism look a little less pure and appealing.

The film lacks the overall punch it needs to raise it to above average status.

The Magnificent Seven

REVIEWED ON 9/23/2016       GRADE: C+