- Published Date
- by Frank Wilkins
Before we get started, let’s get one thing out of the way. Get off your high horse about The Magnificent Seven being a remake. We mustn't forget that 1960’s The Magnificent Seven was itself a remake of an earlier – and better – film called The Seven Samurai. All three bear little resemblance to one another, save for a central plot that has a band of outcasts coming together for a righteous cause. Then again, that same plotline has tentacles that run deeply through any number of classic westerns.
So, with that out of the way, let’s look at 2016’s The Magnificent Seven based on its own merit. Antoine Fuqua directs from a script by Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto, and reteams with Denzel Washington for the first time since the two last hooked up in 2001’s Training Day.
The story takes place in the fictional 1879 California mining town of Rose Creek where the townsfolk are meeting to discuss a threat from Sacramento robber baron Bartholemew Bogue (Perter Sarsgaard) who is forcing them to sell their land dirt cheap so he can reap the mining profits. If they don’t? The callous murder of several townfolk and the burning of the village church gets the point across quite succinctly that Bogue means serious business.
The town sheriff and local deputies are on Bogue’s payroll and institute a weapons ban to keep the citizens at bay. Sound familiar? And that defensive tactic might have worked were it not for recently widowed Emma Matthew (Haley Bennett) who leaves town to rustle up the bounty hunting services of warrant officer Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington). Chisolm knows of Bogue’s ruthlessness and knows he can’t do it alone, so he sets out to round up a band of rogues who will help take down Bogue and his army of hired guns. The rest of the seven are: card-shark gunfighter Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt); Confederate Civil War vet Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his knife-throwing pal Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee); God-fearing mountain man and hulking former Indian hunter Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio); young native American Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier); and Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo); a bounty hunter from Mexico.
We spend much of the first reel with the merry band of misfits as they make their way across the California countryside towards Rose Creek where they will concoct an elaborate defensive plan and teach the local farmers, ranchers, and shopkeepers how to defend their town.
Fuqua’s biggest challenge comes in ensuring that we spend enough quality time with each character, lest the entire bunch become a nameless, faceless cadre of shallow characters. But with seven main individuals plus a couple of locals to introduce, there are, naturally, some who will get slighted. Also see Suicide Squad. Fortunately, Fuqua comes through with many charmingly personal moments that endear his cast and set us up for a fist-pumping climax.
Speaking of climaxes. This isn’t your father’s The Magnificent Seven! When the shots finally ring out, the body count soars into the dozens with just enough viciousness to make us question the film’s PG-13 rating. The lack of blood probably trumps the high body count in the minds of the MPAA, but regardless, the gun shots and explosions are deafeningly loud, the violence feels real, and the entire experience certainly benefits from today’s modern filmmaking techniques. It’s not until Elmer Bernstein’s rousing theme starts up beneath the credits, that the blood can finally rush back into our white knuckles.
The Magnificent Seven is a solid western, told with just enough warm, endearing humor and breadth of character to play nicely against its relentlessly savage fight scenes. Several clever tips of the 10-gallon hat to earlier incarnations of the film coupled with a subtle message that rings true to today’s times are enough to recommend a saddle-up and a mosey-down to the theater to catch this on the big screen. The film’s resounding theme about self sacrifice and being unselfish is sure to put a bit more jangle in your spurs.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, and for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material
Runtime: 132 mins
Director: David Lynch
Writer: Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke
Tagline: Justice has a number.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I didn't want to kill him; you shouldn't have touched my guns."
Theatrical Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Official Site: https://www.facebook.com/Mag7Movie/
Release Date: September 23, 2016
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: December 20, 2016.
Synopsis: The Magnificent Seven. 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.
Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray - December 20, 2016
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD-50); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: Region A
Finally! A modern movie shot on 35mm film! That’s the first thing that is striking about Sony’s 1080p transfer. The grain level is just so nice to witness on the screen, bringing new life to the digital-heavy format. With a healthy balance in its image, this presentation in 2.39:1 is warm all over. Colors are bold and contrast is sharp. The details running throughout this film are insane. Layered and thick, lines hold their shapes and – especially against all the wood – the details are expansive. Black levels are strong. Shadows are definite and work to open up some of the shots with plunging depth. The sound – presented here in a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track – is also expansive and dynamically robust.
For nearly three hours, the cast and crew do an on-screen commentary track that is engaging, funny, and wonderful – just like the movie. We don't get many of these on-screen commentaries anymore so we really need to appreciate it when it happens. Dig in!
If the visual commentary wasn't enough to satisfy your purchase, the supplemental items certainly will. We get a good collection of deleted scenes, looks at the bios of the characters, behind the scenes looks at the direction of the shoot, and the film's epic music written by James Horner. A UV digital copy code is included with purchase.
- Deleted Scenes (7 min)
- The Seven (8 min)
- Directing The Seven (5 min)
- The Taking of Rose Creek (5 min)
- Gunslingers (5 min)
- Magnificent Music (4 min)