MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE (2016)
The small town of Rose Creek is under control of rich industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who forcing the residents to leave their homes and livelihoods. Led by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), they engage seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns - Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As the seven mercenaries try to prepare the town for the upcoming violent showdown that is coming, they know they are fighting for much more than money.
Review by Louise Keller:
Made with polish and buoyed by a rousing score, this 2016 cinematic remake is worth seeing on the big screen, largely due to the thrilling, climactic finale when bullets, arrows and knives find their marks with precision and great frequency. But the film is a bit long and lacks the kind of emotional involvement I craved. Director Antoine Fuqua delivers a stylish, handsome western that would benefit from more light and shade. If you are expecting laughs you will be disappointed: bullets and horseplay are the main focus, although there are a few instances of dark humour. Unsurprisingly, Fuqua relies on the star power of his leading man Denzel Washington, who looks good on a horse and makes a striking figure dressed in black as he recruits a 'bunch of strays' to protect the town of Rose Creek from the greedy, gold-seeking industrialist.
Set in 1879, the opening sequence shows us first hand the callousness of the villainous Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who seizes land and terrorizes the simple farm residents. The fact that Sarsgaard's Bogue is a wimpy man who relies on his henchmen to do his dirty work lessens the film's overall impact, although that is probably the point; a film is often defined by the strength of its villain. We have to wait until the final confrontation between Bogue and Washington's warrant officer Sam Chisolm to finally get the emotional hit for which we have been waiting.
The recruitment of the motley group is key in establishing the personalities, with Chris Pratt effective as the wildcard, hard-drinking Josh Faraday, whose penchant for card tricks and magic has a pay off. The fact that each of the seven men are so different (in personality, appearance and age) works in its favour with Vincent D'Onofrio fascinating as an eccentric wild man, Ethan Hawke fighting demons as the 'Angel of Death' and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, the Mexican wanted dead or alive. The surprises are Martin Sensmeier as the Comanche with the ever-changing face paint and Byung-Hun Lee as the Asian killing machine who is proficient with knives and explains how simple it is - all you have to do is 'throw, slash, stab: that's it.' Hayley Bennett is terrific as Emma Cullen; she seeks righteousness but settles for revenge.
The pace escalates in the last reel, when tensions mount as chaos erupts with an army of baddies who gallop into Rose Creek, which is when the surprises and big bangs start.
Best not to compare this remake with the 1960 original; the latter was a film of its time, with the added impetus of its origins from Akira Kurosawa's 1954 classic Seven Samurai.
Don't rush away at the end of the film; it is great to hear Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Seven theme again - played by a resounding 87-piece orchestra. This theme is one of the most recognizable to have ever been written. Also on a musical note, composer James Horner tragically died in a plane crash before the score was completed. It was finished by his longtime programmer and arranger Simon Franglen.
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MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, THE (2016) (M)
CAST: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-um Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
PRODUCER: Roger Birnbaum, Todd Black
DIRECTOR: Antoine Fuqua
SCRIPT: Richard Wenk, Nic Pizzolatto (based on screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mauro Fiore
EDITOR: John Refoua
MUSIC: Simon Franglen, James Horner
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Derek R. Hill
RUNNING TIME: 133 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Releasing
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 29, 2016