Director Antoine Fuqua delivers yet another badass story about mismatched dudes who share a knack for getting into trouble and fighting their way out. The Magnificent Seven may not be the textured, blurred-morals Western that some expected, but damn, it was fun.
Like the premise of the source material, the story emerges from a town ravaged by greed. Badguy supreme, AKA: Peter Sarsgaard, is the rogue capitalist, burning and bleeding anything that stands in the way of his growing empire. This includes the one-road town of Rose Creek, upon which a supply of gold rests. Two townspeople, including Haley Bennett from the awesome little slasher Kristy, take it upon themselves to hire a gunman to rid themselves of their well-heeled oppressor. With the offer of “everything” they have, Denzel Washington naturally rounds up a collection of strays to lead into a battle of insurmountable odds.
The process of assembling the team of seven and teaching the townsfolk how to defend themselves is as enjoyable as the action. Insert goofy Chris Pratt jokes, Byung-hung Lee doing cool shit with blades (if you haven’t seen The Good, The Bad, and The Weird – do that), and some awkward moments with the always-strange Vincent D’Onofrio…what’s not to love?
Fuqua knows the form, as he lovingly recreates the iconography of classic Westerns and embraces thematic tropes of the genre. The Magnificent Seven isn’t a progressive film. It doesn’t challenge the genre with a postmodern lens. Nor does it paint humans in gradients. Beyond the concept of unruly misfits being capable of doing good, moral complexity is not to be found in Fuqua’s tale. The bad guys are bad. And the good guys and gal are good.
Despite surface level themes, I still cared about what happened to the ragtag crew. If you’re familiar with the ending of Seven Samurai and the 1960 film of the same name, then you understand the odds that the whole lot of heroes will walk off into the sunset when the credits roll. Even with grim expectations, I was excited to witness each character’s personality and fighting approach unfold during the climactic battle.
And let’s talk about that final, epic action sequence. It’s long. A lot of people (and horses) die. The shooting is endless. Every goddamn window is broken from a bullet, a body, or an explosion. There’s dynamite. There’s snipers. There’s trench warfare. The amped-up conclusion felt more like a light Sam Peckinpah film than the closed-knit Western tale that preceded it. For the most part the battle is well-crafted, but the constant deluge of gunfire loses its novelty by the end.
If you like Westerns, go see it. If you like Fuqua’s Four Brothers, go see it. If you like Denzel being Denzel, go see it. The Magnificent Seven may not surprise you, but it will entertain you.