The Magnificent Seven isn’t a bad film, it’s just more average than magnificent.
After this month’s other remake of a remake of a remake Ben-Hur, this week we’re treated to another remake of a remake, this time from Training Day director Antoine Fuqua – The Magnificent Seven.
The reboot/remake is based on the 1960’s film of the same name, which in turn was based on the classic Seven Samurai.
While not a direct remake – certain plot elements are changed – the Magnificent reboot basically tells the same story.
Seven gunmen – Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, led by Denzel Washington – are recruited by Haley Bennett to help protect a small town from an evil bloke (Peter Sarsgaard) trying to take advantage off them.
If I sound unenthused about the story that’s because it’s basically window dressing for an old fashioned western shootout, which would be fine if they’d actually managed to make that bit exciting.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re a fan of film, and as a fan of film, I’m sure you’re aware of the grammar of a movie. By which I mean there are certain tropes, cliches or cinematic techniques you know will happen in a certain genre.
For example, in an action film, like Magnificent, you know there will be a moment in the third act where all will seem lost until one plucky hero saves the day.
As someone who’s cine-literate, you’ll also know the moment’s coming but that a skilled director is more than capable of either subverting that preconceived expectation or of getting you so invested in the action that your brain momentarily forgets.
Unfortunately, Fuqua fails to be anything more than average, delivering several competent action scenes that while not without some thrills, fail to deliver in a way that will excite audiences.
Part of the film’s problem is its lack of stakes. Anyone who’s seen the original will know how things end for the Seven and this knowledge, while not the film’s fault, robs the film of any real thrills.
Adding to this is the fact that our main characters are pretty much invincible, wading through gun battles the way a normal person does a supermarket on a Saturday. Seriously, the baddies are about as tough as wet paper.
All this combines to make the film flat and about as tensionless as that pair of undies you’ve had in your top drawer since 1999.
Now, it’s not all bad. As previously noted, the last act is competently directed, even if it’s rather obvious, and both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke put in good performances, filling out their characters beyond the simple script.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the Seven who are basically single joke archetypes with no real motivation to be there besides the script telling them that’s where they’re supposed to be.
If I had to describe Magnificent Seven in one word, it’d be ‘unnecessary’, because ultimately that’s what it is – an unnecessary reboot that fails to live up to its predecessors or do anything notable of its own.
All in all, The Magnificent Seven remake is a by-the-numbers action farce that’s nowhere near as exciting as it should be, and it should serve as a warning to Hollywood not to mess with the classics.