7 Reasons to Watch Magnificent Seven

My movie review bar is set pretty low. I ask just two things of a film; a good story and it must entertain. Everything else is fluff. And, this particular remake of the 1960 Yul Brynner film had both qualities in mega doses.

I am not normally a fan of westerns. Usually when someone talks about one I will yawn and change the subject. But it is just hard to ignore Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke together in anything. Curiosity getting the better of me - I headed to the theater to see my first "gunslinger" in years. I found myself thoroughly entertained and loving it on all points.

Reason 1: The Story
Who does not love to see justice overtake evil, and M-7 has this in plenty. Yet, at its heart, it is a simple story. When the small town of Rose Creek is terrorized by greedy land barron Bartholomew Bogue, the desperate townspeople hire bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Washington) to rid them of his evil. Sam, in turn hires a "response" team composed of a sharpshooter, a couple bounty hunters, a Mexican outlaw, a tracker, a Comanche warrior, and my personal favorite - the knife welding Billy Rocks. What's not to love. And, a more ragtag gang of villains would be hard to find anywhere else on screen. The eventual outcome was obvious, but the fun was in the journey. 

Reason 2: Denzel Washington (Sam Chisolm)
Denzel is arguably one of Hollywood's kings- with a big screen career spanning nearly 30 years of hits and numerous memorable parts. Give the man a script and a camera and let him at it. Denzel played the hardened bounty hunter Chisolm seeking justice with a personal vendetta that reads like a grocery list. He was hired to go on the ultimate talent acquisition search to recruit a band of skilled vigilantes as guns-for-hire. He probably had ice for veins and chewed on nails for dinner, cause Chisolm was one cold-blooded individual.

Reason 3: Ethan Hawke (Goodnight Robicheaux)

Hawke plays a southern marksman, AKA the angel of death who has no enthusiasm for joining the group of gun toting misfits in an ambiguous fight. That is until he hears who's leading the march - his old compadre Sam Chisolm. He signs on but struggles with PTSD's that he conceals from the others, as he travels with his side-show cash cow, the knife throwing Oriental with a deadly aim.

Reason 4: Chris Pratt (Farady)
As the drunken Irishman Faraday (Chris Pratt), was an on-screen frolic from end to end. Pratt played him with the same brand of humor he employed in Guardians of the Galaxy - skilled, arrogant and never-to-be-taken seriously. Pratt is Hollywood's new prince of the blockbuster, churning out hit after hit to the delight of studios coffers. This is the third almost identical role I've seen him play, but he does it with so much charm and swagger that you just don't care.

Reason 5: Lee Byung Hun (Billy Rocks)
I have been an unofficial fan of Hun since seeing him in Red 2. (See that review). He has the world's most mesmerizing stop-in-your-tracks stare. And, it doesn't hurt that he has mad fighting skills too. He play Billy Rocks, the knife-throwing sidekick to Ethan Hawke's character. Rocks impresses little, says even less, but delivers the goods in a timely manner.

Reason 6: Vincent D'Onofrio (Jack Horne)
My favorite misfit was the over-the-hill Jack Horne - played to perfection by Vince D'Onofrio. He's one unstable son-of-a-gun, with an ax to grind  (literally), and not to be underestimated. He may look like he's lost it until you get on his wrong side then your demise is swift and historic. D'Onofrio as Horne was a walking, talking nuthouse of onscreen enjoyment.

Reason 7: Entertainment Value
The story and the characters were engaging on every level. In an era when movie directors seems to be on a mission to fill stories with multiple twists and turns, it was refreshing to see a straightforward plot with no mind-benders. This cast of characters had such twisted minds that they could have opened a support group for Lunatics Anonymous. 

These men were not saints out for justice, they were narcissistic warriors in a fight for a lucrative payday, and that was what made them interesting. Director Antoine Fuqua seemed only to happy to reunite Hawke with Washington on their first film together since the 2001 Training Day. Peter Sarsgaard played a one-dimensional villain, a run-of-the-mill bad guy, who for me, lacked the interest of the main characters.

Overall, as remakes go, M-7 was a worthy gunslinger rehash. Yes, it had weak spots, yes, it felt formulamatic, (it's a word now), but dang it, if you're just looking for a good time, an honest-to-goodness get-um-back story, and some of the best deadpan stares in the business since Clint Eastwood's acting glory days - then this one's for you.


  1. Nice review, CM. I really have to check this one out. I remember the critics being a bit lukewarm on it. And thanks for virtually ignoring that there was a classic precursor. It really is irrelevant, IMHO, especially as Antoine Fuqua cast an African American in a key role, which the original did not have.

    1. Thanks for your response to my review. I can happily say that I enjoyed both versions of this film, which I cannot always say about a remake.


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