Whilst the western genre is yet to make a complete resurgence, there have been enough solid titles peppered throughout cinema over the last few years – ‘True Grit’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ – to evoke audience confidence that the genre still has a little life left in it. Hoping to potentially (re)jumpstart Hollywood’s love affair with the classic western, director Antoine Fuqua (‘Training Day’, ‘Southpaw’) has taken on quite possibly one of the biggest titles of the genre in remaking 1960’s ‘The Magnificent Seven’ – itself a remake of the 1954 Japanese historical epic ‘Seven Samurai’.
Swapping out the likes of Yul Brenner, Charles Bronson and Steve McQueen for such reliable A-listers as Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke, Fuqua’s 2016 update is all about style over substance as he tries his best to make the film feel modern without sacrificing its 1870’s setting.
Washington is all swag and confidence as the appointed leader of the titular septet but his ego-centric shtick is getting a little predictable at this point, so thankfully the likes of Pratt (oozing charisma), Hawke, a scene-chewing Vincent D’Onofrio, and the alluring exotic aesthetics of Byung-hun Lee and Martin Sensmeier maintain interest as the story proves far too stock-standard; corrupt idealist takes the land of hard-working folk leading to them seeking out revenge.
Given Fuqua’s background in primarily violent action films, it’s worthy to note that ‘The Magnificent Seven’ doesn’t quite hit as hard as one might expect – though for an M rated film it still offers up decent carnage – and the overindulgent running time of 136 minutes is quite often felt as the middle section of the film panders in pointless exposition that does little to further the plot or deepen our group of gunslingers.
Though ‘The Magnificent Seven’ will hardly convert non-western enthusiasts, it shouldn’t upset genre puritans either as it stands comfortably as a middle-ground actioner that serves its purpose as disposable entertainment.
The Magnificent Seven is in cinemas this Thursday. Watch the trailer below: