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MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE (2016)

COMING (BACK) TO TOWN
“They fought for the future / to wipe away their past” goes a line in the lyrics of the theme song from John Sturges’ 1960 original of The Magnificent Seven, telling us about the seven none-too innocent men (led by Yul Brynner’s Chris Adams) who redeem themselves defending an oppressed Mexican village from a gang of 40 bandits. Now, Antoine Fuqua has remade the film through the prism of our times. Andrew L. Urban reports.

Based on Akira Kurosawa’s classic 1954 screenplay, The Seven Samurai, The Magnificent Seven boasted a dream cast of Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, Brad Dexter and James Coburn. It was a rip roaring success; I was one of the millions who flocked to see it.

And why not: seven tough guys taking on the defence of a village against 40 equally tough guys in the days of the old West is a compelling story, filled out by characterisations and gunfights.

Fuqua has added a black dude to the gang, with Denzel Washington as Sam Chisolm, and James Coburn’s role as Britt The Knifeman is played by Byung-hun Lee. The other five are Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier. As for that essential gender diversity, Haley Bennett plays Emma Cullen – the boss.

Other changes are more fundamental.

But other changes are more fundamental, as the new scenario (from John Lee Hancock, Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto) sees a new villain in town: With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.

The Magnificent Seven releases in Australia on September 29, a month after the release of the remake of Ben Hur, William Wyler’s 1959 epic (August 25), as if time was drip feeding Hollywood; the remake is directed by Russian-Kazakh Timur Bekmambetov (of Night Watch, Day Watch fame) and Jack Huston plays the title character, originally played by Charlton Heston.

Published September 1, 2016

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