REVIEWS

TIFF 2016: Fuqua's 'The Magnificent Seven' is Sheer Entertainment

by
September 10, 2016

The Magnificent Seven Review

Seven outlaws come together to save a helpless town from a greedy tyrant in Antoine Fuqua's new version of The Magnificent Seven, a remake of the original 1960 film (directed by John Sturges) which in itself was an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai. That's probably the most confusing thing to be said about this new movie since the story its telling is as straight-forward and as expected as you've seen many times before. The good news, however, is what Fuqua's The Magnificent Seven lacks in originality it more than makes up for in sheer entertainment, for those wondering if this one is worth seeing.

The year is 1879 and the town of Rose Creek has been descended upon by bandits looking to kick out its residents and mine the land for gold. The villainous group is led by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard, looking incredibly sleepy) and he's the typical bully, a guy who only talks tough when he's surrounded by his henchmen. To ensure he means business, Bogue turns the town into a war zone and even burns down the local church for good measure. Scared and destitute, the local residents turn to sympathetic outlaw Sam Chisolm for help. He's played by Denzel Washington and that becomes his cue to round up a small posse of freedom fighters for backup.

There may indeed be seven multi-ethnic heroes in The Magnificent Seven, but only four of them are given any halfway decent character development. The aforementioned Sam is the bounty hunting leader of the group, Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt) is the group's charismatic comic relief, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) is a traumatized war veteran and Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio) is the crazy wild card. This rag tag group of antiheroes is nothing new but the secret ingredient that makes the film work is the cast's chemistry together. In a similar story structure it's the same thing that worked for the Ocean's Eleven ensemble and it's also the same thing that worked against the Suicide Squad crew earlier this summer.

Part of the film's credit goes to director Antoine Fuqua (known for Training Day, Brooklyn's Finest, The Equalizer) who manages to take the suicidal task of remaking a classic film and delivering an enjoyable rollercoaster ride. This is his third pairing with both Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke and their working relationship translates to a very fun and solid chemistry onscreen. Denzel in particular continues to be so charismatic and engaging in The Magnificent Seven that it's easy to take him for granted. There are still a few movie stars left in Hollywood and he is definitely one of the greats.

Fuqua's updated The Magnificent Seven isn't searching for anything deep or profound, it is well-crafted A-B-C storytelling and on those terms its audience will be fulfilled. This is a movie that sets up seven reluctant fighters in its first half and pays it off in the second half with action, fun and a huge Gatling gun.

Marco's TIFF Rating: B
Follow Marco on Twitter - @BigDumbMale

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  • InNolanWeTrust
    I'm usually put off by remakes and the trailer for this doesn't make me feel like they've done anything to warrant me changing my mind.
    • Bo
      Yea, I agree. I just read an article with some of the actors and they yammer about it not being a remake and having nothing to do with the McQueen film. Then why the title and the same story and arc? It's absurd and more than a bit disingenuous to say the least. Platt, whom I don't care for, said why can't they use the title and it not be the same? Because he named his kid Chad does that mean he's like other Chad's? I thought that was so lame I almost fell out of my chair laughing. I like Washington, sometimes, but his quipping etc. in these trailers turned me off. He also claimed in this article as not having seen the McQueen film, which in fine, I guess, so he has no idea what anyone is talking about regarding playing the Yul Brynner character, blah blah blah. Just a lot of pretense and nonsense. I'll be as you and not change my mind about this movie either...maybe on cable a year form now?...Nah! Cheers.
      • The only remake that tried and succeeded in bringing something really different, while using the same title, is De Palma's Scarface. Carpenter's the Thing was also a great remake that overtook The thing from outer space, even though it used the same name and plot. Hollywood should stop it with these reboot/remakes. They are killing the cinema industry.
        • Bo
          Well, I'm not a big DePalma fan, but Scarface was pretty over the top and quite a funny movie. I agree with your assessment of The Thing. I don't know what's killing the cinema history...infantilizing the audience sure isn't helping, but it's making them money and that's all they care about. I was just contemplating remakes and generally don't respond well to them, but I saw, or thought, of one that was better than the original, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was at this moment...sorry...lol...if it comes back to me I'll let you know...don't hold your breath though...lol.
        • Bo
          I just remembered, tarek. I watched Scorsese's Cape Fear the other night and remembered how much I liked it, which was a lot. I think it's a lot better than the original. DeNiro was firing on all cylinders, as was Nolte, and Juliette Lewis was terrific as the teen-aged girl. Excellent film!
          • Agreed. This movie excelled in playing with our nerves. De Niro was deliciously awful. I need to watch it again.
          • Bo
            Yea, I really like the movie. Well done on all accounts. The script was really top notch and the score was from the original Bernard Hermann score, updated or whatever by another composer...Bernstiein or someone...still a great, great score. Hermann did Taxi Driver for Scorsese. Oh...other honorable mentions in the remake thing: 3:10 To Yuma with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, Warren Beatty's Heaven Can Wait, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. None of them improved on the great original directed by Don Siegel, but I really liked the '78 film by Phillip Kaufman with Donald Sutherland and liked the '93 version from Abel Ferrara called just Body Snatcher with Gabrielle Anwar and Meg Telly. Of course, I'd walk barefoot over a mile of broken glass to you know what with Ms. Anwar. She's really something...lol..still, but was a good, very short, 87 mins., film. Cheers. Speaking of which how are you doing on the remake of Wages of Fear, Scorcerer? That's one of the better remakes, although you being such a fan of the French original it will be interesting to hear your thoughts.
          • Hey Bo! I have finally watched it. This movie should have won at least two Oscars. One for direction and one for special effects. the scene on the bridge is so good I'm still wondering how they have managed to shoot it... I learned this movie was released the same time as Star Wars. That was a very unfortunate move. What I liked the most, above the exotic and realistic locations and sets was the first act. ( I learned the movie was shot on one island of the Dominican republic, with the help of an executive producer of Paramount who was in "business" with the government). The story was built like a giant Fresco. You can't make sense of what was going on until you get the whole picture. The Heist chapter reminded me of a good Scorcese movie, and the French chapter was directed a la Verneuil.
          • Bo
            Excellent. Glad you liked it as much as I did. Yea, when Star Wars came out and went through the ceiling and this film flopped, me and my circle of friends knew it was all over. Big budget, blockbuster silly movies for the herd were going to take over Hollywood. It's still going on today. Pity, but life is rough and one must endure...lol... Cheers!
          • As Friedkin himself said philosophically: "‘The films being made today are seen by the widest audiences ever. But they’re not for me,’"
          • Bo
            He said that, did he? He's being pretty polite about it, that's for sure...lol...
        • InNolanWeTrust
          Both The Thing and The Fly are those rare examples of remakes equaling or surpassing the originals. Taking advantage of modern day horror FX and some exceptional directing really elevated them to the classics that they now are. Scarface is excellent as well.
          • Oh! The fly! I forgot this awesomely disturbing movie. Cronenberg at his best. Let's face it, the 80s are the golden age of modern cinema.
  • DAVIDPD
    I respect ByungHun's attempt at making it the USA, but he can stop now.
  • Brandon
    Really not looking forward to seeing anymore remakes, reboots or sequels, and I don't much care for Faqua's films, but I'm willing to give this a chance ONLY 'cause Denzel's in it. I could watch him in almost anything.
  • This will be shear fun for me. Love the charisma of Denzel Washington and the comic relief of Chris prat. And by the way love the style of movie making of Fuqua. Never seen a bad movie of him, he is a sure bet for the movie studio's.. Never seen a good remake of a classic movie, but this is such a long time ago, so it's like new for me...
    • DAVIDPD
      KING ARTHUR and OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN were lowlights in an otherwise very fun and varied filmography. I really liked SHOOTER for what it was and I'm pretty excited for the new series based on it.
      • Loved Olympus has fallen, and king Arthur wasn't that bad...
        • Olympus has fallen was decent dumb pop corn fun movie. But London has fallen was a brain killer,
  • RAW_D
    Looks like I'll wait for the Redbox and/or Netflix for this one...
  • grimjob
    It looks entertaining and all, I just wish they didn't have to use the name to sell it. As far as I can tell, it has no similarity to the original. I'd probably be excited to see it if they were selling it on its own merit.
    • Hollywood is a very insecure animal.
      • grimjob
        Greedy cowards.

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