By Justin Rev Ino Tamang
Yet another remake hits the big screen with The Magnificent Seven. This film starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, and other notable Hollywood personalities is a retelling of a circa 1960 flick of the same title. Unlike Pete’s Dragon, The Magnificent Seven retains every major element of the original story – for better and for worse.
An infamous and affluent industrialist begins terrorizing a small village called Rose Creek. The industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), aims to grab every bit of land in the area to expand his mining business. Bogue is not afraid to hire gunmen to scare off and – if need be or if he wants to – kill those who dare oppose him. Enter Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), a widow who wants to fight Bogue. She enlists the help of bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and six other gunslingers to reclaim the village.
Sounds familiar? It probably does, especially to film buffs. After all, The Magnificent Seven is a retelling of the Akira Kurosawa film Seven Samurai with a Wild West setting, kind of like West Side Story to Romeo and Juliet.
The plot is straightforward, but this 2016 remake lacks the depth of Kurosawa’s work. There are no epiphanies and philosophical notions; just tons of heroics and action. It is this aspect of the flick that makes it a bit weak and look like a poor retelling of a classic. Amid the interesting backgrounds of its characters, the movie pays little attention to subplots that would have been compelling.
But in a way, the simplicity works in its favor as well. It’s a film where you know what’s going to happen, but you watch and wait for entertainment’s sake anyway. Washington puts on an admirable performance in crucial scenes, but Pratt is easily the star of the show. Pratt works wonders with his fellow cast members in adding huge doses of fun to an otherwise generic action film.
There is also a unique appeal to the way every line is phrased. There is a rhythm that flows smoothly and naturally like jazz. It’s poetic without limiting itself to the common confines of poetry. Each sentence oozes with exquisiteness that’s quite rare in a movie.
Despite these upsides, “magnificent” is a tad too much to describe The Magnificent Seven. It’s not that great story-wise and theme-wise, but it’s a film that nails action-packed entertainment in every sequence. Add the amazing use of dialogue to the mix and it certainly is worth watching. Had it gone deeper to its possible subplots, it would have been a phenomenal Western take on the Kurosawa classic.