Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 19 September 2016

Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

Review: THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)

When a ruthless industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) threatens to steal the precious land of the villagers in Rose Creek, a vengeful townswoman Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) step up and hires bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) to help her save the town. In order to fight Bogue and his army of hired guns, Sam and Emma recruits six more men including a wisecracking gambler Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), a Civil War veteran sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his knife-wielding partner Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-Hun), a Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and a tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio).


REVIEW: At the first glance, remaking John Sturges' 1960 all-star western classic of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (itself a remake of Akira Kurosawa's SEVEN SAMURAI) seems like an ill-advised approach. But with Hollywood going crazy with all kinds of remakes these days, nothing is sacred anymore. Reportedly cost at an estimated US$100 million to make, it was certainly a risky move investing that much money for a western genre. However, thanks to Antoine Fuqua's reasonably solid direction and a diverse cast headlined by Denzel Washington, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is entertaining enough to satisfy both old and new fans of the genre.

First up, it was the inspired casting of Denzel Washington as the leading actor of this all-star ensemble. Likewise, he brings impressive charisma and confidence to his magnetic screen presence. Chris Pratt is ideally cast as the movie's major comic relief while Ethan Hawke excels in his role as a sharpshooter with a traumatic past. Not to mention it was also Hawke's reunion with Washington after their memorable collaboration in Fuqua's TRAINING DAY fifteen years ago, and it's nice to see them sharing the same screen again. Lee Byung-Hun is coolly charismatic as Billy Rocks, especially the way he demonstrates his knife-throwing skills. Vincent D'Onofrio delivers a perfectly grizzled turn as Jack Horne and Haley Bennett's tough yet sympathetic portrayal as Emma Cullen is decent enough as the movie's only female lead. Peter Sarsgaard is well-cast as the main antagonist here with his best scene came from the riveting opening scene. Finally, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and relative newcomer Martin Sensmeier round up the cast with their above-average performances as Vasquez and Red Harvest.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is also technically proficient, with Fuqua smartly favours more on old-school stunts over CGI-heavy carnage. The action, particularly the climactic shootout during the finale, is both intense and exhilarating. Best of all, it's hard to believe that watching a good old shootout can be so cinematic on an IMAX screen. Mauro Fiore's epic cinematography is majestic, which of course, best experienced on the biggest screen possible. Simon Franglen and the late James Horner's score is rousing with a hint of Elmer Bernstein's iconic main theme. Speaking of Bernstein, fans of the 1960 version would rejoice with his main theme playing over the end credits.

Although the movie does suffer from a few shortcomings including Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto's overly familiar screenplay as well as the climactic shootout tends to stretch a bit too much, Fuqua's new vision of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN remains a must-see for every western fan.

Antoine Fuqua's new take on THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN is flawed but blessed with enough stunning visuals, irresistible all-star ensemble and well-staged shootouts to give this western movie a truly immersive cinematic experience.

* This review is written courtesy from Sony Pictures Malaysia IMAX press screening *

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