3 1/2 Stars
Antoine Fuqua’s remake of John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven, which itself was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, is the best traditional big studio-released western in over 20 years. Lately revisionist takes on the genre such as The Revenant, True Grit, Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight have dominated the format. So, it’s refreshing to see a sturdy unabashedly earnest honest-to-goodness ‘cowboy’ movie. This marks the third successful collaboration between director Antoine Fuqua and leading man Denzel Washington. Although, equally captivating are Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio.
It’s 1879, and a corrupt barron is attempting a land grab on the unsuspecting citizens of the mining town of Rose Creek. Locals that have stood up to the sadistic industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) have been brutally murder in public view, to assure minimal resistance from the other townsfolk. The widow of one of the slaughtered men rides to the nearest town to recruit someone who can fight back against Bogue. There she comes upon Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who is hesitant to accept the job until he learns of Bogue’s involvement.
Chisolm assembles a rowdy and raucous group of misfits to aid in taking back the town of Rose Creek. The pack includes gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), weapons expert Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Indian tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and wanted Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo).
Antoine Fuqua command of his craft, technique, and cinematic language are commendable, he’s graduated into another level on this picture. This is a wonderfully directed film without a single wasted moment in the 135 minute running time. Some may find the elongated battle sequence that takes up the majority of the second hour over-kill, I found it exhilarating and worth the price of admission. Chris Pratt once again proves to be a major presence, he nearly walks off with another film. Stopping the thieving thespian are his high-caliber co-stars, who are all on target.
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke