The Magnificent Seven (2016)

The Magnificent Seven is a good addition to the Western genre, with its action-packed sequences and funny scenes.

The Magnificent Seven is set in the Old West and follows the lives of the people in this small town. When industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his gang come in and demand that the townspeople pay taxes to them, the townspeople initially refuse, but agree when many people are killed by Bogue. Bogue and his gang kill a few individuals to set an example, and also burn the church. One of the widows, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), who lost her husband becomes enraged and hires Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to kill the Bogue’s gang, so the people of the town can live peaceful lives. From Chisolm’s efforts, he manages to recruit six other members who are willing to fight against Bogue’s gang. But with the massive number of people under Bogue, does Chisolm and his crew of the deadliest shooters and assassins stand a chance against hundreds of men?

This film sets itself up as a fun Western action movie with good homages to older Western films. Technically, this film is a remake of the 1960 classic of the same name, which is a remake of the Japanese film, Seven Samurai (1954). The 1960 version and Seven Samurai balanced their action with good drama, but this new film focuses on more thrills and adventure. Some people may be disappointed by this because this new film is different from the older movies. However, a lot of other people can find enjoyment in this film. Look beyond the well-choreographed scenes of men shooting at their enemies, and pay close attention to the homages within the scenes. Homage is defined as “something that is done to honor someone or something.”

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The homages within this film honor the genre conventions of classic Westerns. Scenes where Chisolm’s crew have a Mexican standoff with the Bogue’s gang give honor to Sergio Leone’s The Man with No Name trilogy, starring Clint Eastwood. In this great trilogy, Clint Eastwood stars as “the man with no name,” who has Mexican standoffs with his adversaries. These scenes always inject suspense all due to the close-ups of the actors’ faces and the tense music.

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Sergio Leone used quick cuts of the face close-ups to put energy into the scene. By doing this, he gave us a fast look at the characters’ faces within a short amount of time. The music by Ennio Morricone adds more tension to the scene by complementing the quick cuts with its fast melodies. These edits and music are what made these Mexican standoffs memorable. The Magnificent Seven does the same thing by adding fast music and the fast cuts to make their standoffs exciting to watch.

Another homage that was added to the film was the reluctant hero. Denzel Washington stars as the reluctant hero Sam Chisolm, a bounty hunter who strides into this small town and catches his bounty. Washington embodies the reluctant hero with style and swag. When we are first introduced to this character, he rides on a horse throughout town. Many people look at him because he is black. Chisolm arrives at the bar and goes in without any fears. White men stop what they are doing and stare at him. Chisolm shows courage and sticks his ground, and handles his business. An actor like Denzel Washington can play this character because he is able to portray cool, complex characters. While Washington does a good job playing the role of the reluctant hero, the other actors do a good job as well.

The good acting performances keep the film engaging, and allows viewers to easily gain sympathy for the characters. Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) stars as Joshua Faraday, a gambler with a lot of hidden tricks up his sleeve. The character of Faraday comes across as a playboy who makes jokes and only cares for himself. Another actor may have made this character unlikable, but fortunately, Pratt steps into the role and makes this character likable and relatable. Other actors Ethan Hawke (Training Day), Vincent D’ Onofrio (Daredevil TV show), Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, and Martin Sensmeier hit the right targets with their characters. What the filmmakers did right with this film is casting the right actors for these roles. Byung-hun Lee portrays Billy Rocks as a silent, but deadly assassin who will take you out in a minute. Ethan Hawke plays the well-known sharp shooter who battles PTSD. Hawke’s performance as this character sheds light on how complex and troubled he is. We see the fear in his eyes when trouble starts. Vincent D’ Onofrio as Jack Horne is one of the most interesting characters in the film. Onofrio injects humor into the scenes by delivering funny dialogue to perfection. The whole cast in the film fires on all cylinders and gives us one of the best acted Western films in recent years.

Thanks to a great acting ensemble, funny jokes, and good action, The Magnificent Seven is a fun thrill ride that will entertain most viewers.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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