This is the last remnants of a summer at the movies. With a straightforward story and predictable plot points The Magnificent Seven has every reason to fail. Call me crazy but I enjoyed the hell out of this Western. I’m judging this feature on its own merits and not of those of the 1960 Yul Brynner classic. And on its own, the Denzel Washington led actioner is a damn fun movie with visual spectacle galore. When things aren’t exploding and bullets aren’t flying, a charismatic cast plays off one another with great poise and humor and surprising amounts of chemistry between them.
Beautifully captured, the desolate landscape of the wild west sets the tone of hopelessness as evil matches the emptiness of a dying town on the brink of implosion. Wide shots capture both beauty and heartache with equal amounts of conviction. This is intended to be a thrilling action film and it certainly succeeds visually as dust and bullet fly from the strong opening to the somber, yet victorious finale. Antoine and company know what they’re doing and have a distinct vision however familiar at times it can be.
Unexpectedly, the violence is not only plentiful but brutal as well in a PG-13 rated Western. Every bullet collides with flesh with great power just as every blade stabs or cuts with uncommon savagery. Beyond the familiar visuals of cowboys dueling and sunlight glinting off expertly crafted six-shooters, there are wonderful moments of camaraderie as Washington recruits his cohorts Chris Pratt and Training Day alum, Ethan Hawke among the other magnificent ones. The “7” knows what kind of film it is and it not only revels in it but it excels when it goes all in despite the predictable nature of Westerns and their clichés of which this possesses many.
Fuqua is great at bringing the heroism of his film’s characters to heights that can only be looked at in awe as they save the day and punish those who aim to do harm. But just as good as the heroes are, the villainy of the evildoers must be worthy of the heroes’ efforts and with Peter Sarsgaard as the ever hateful antagonist, their efforts are surely needed and as they clash great visual and audible triumph is had and repeated with complete satisfaction as the credits begin to roll. This is my long winded way of saying that bad guys and good guys face one another with loads of juicy dialogue and even juicier action scenes that are filmed with absolute precision.
You know what kind of film this is. The faceless hordes of henchmen barrel down on the heroes as they face insurmountable odds. People die, jokes are had, and vengeance is achieved. Denzel is as charismatic as ever as is Chris Pratt and with a strong cast behind them, The Magnificent Seven is quite simply, an entertaining, stunningly shot Western with strong performances and crazy as hell action scenes. If that sounds like a good time then I highly recommend checking this one out.
Magnificent it may not be, it’s still a great finish to a lackluster summer at the movies. Let’s hope it’s both a finish to the summer and a start to a fall filled with award worthy performances and movies destined to be classics.
Rated PG-13 For: extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material
Runtime: 132 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Western, Action
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3.5/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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