The Magnificent Seven


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The Magnificent Seven
"You cannot carbon the copy of a tried'n'true people's favorite and expect applause for trying"

It began with Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, followed six years later by John Sturges' Hollywood remake, which had all the ingredients of an iconic fable, a bit like The Great Escape, which took the essence of its original story and added stardust.

Now suddenly in 2016 comes a remake of the remake. Remember what happened when Marky Mark did Michael Caine in the 21st century tart up of The Italian Job? Big mistake. You cannot carbon the copy of a tried'n'true people's favourite and expect applause for trying.

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Here's a message for director Antoine Fuqua. The studio suits might have thought that some of the gloss from the 1960 movie would make the new Seven even more Magnificent. It doesn't work that way. You have to raise your game. What is required is style, witty one liners and actors that stand 10ft tall on the pygmy flats of audience anticipation. They ain't here.

Sturges avoided the merest suggestion of reality. When you have Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn on your team you let them do their thing on a Western stage and watch the sky light up.

The Seven Reboot has Denzel Washington looking tired and old, Chris Pratt behaving like one and drinking too much, Ethan Hawke confused about whether his character has wandered off the page of another script about a gunslinger with a mid-life crisis and Vincent D'Onofrio playing Burl Ives in furs. There are others, such as Byung-hun Lee as the knife thrower who turns out to be the most memorable and a couple of passengers you forget on impact.

The plot has similarities. Mining baron (Peter Sarsgaard), CEO of Bad Guys Inc, owns a two-bit town, its sheriff, the saloon and all the land you can see for miles. He treats people like flotsam from Jetsam County and expects slave-like obedience. After the latest of his killing sprees when the hint of a public revolt is crushed in a hail of bullets and the church at the top of Main Street is torched, a black man who happens in town on bounty business is persuaded to help the good folks with their security. He rides off, collects a bunch of ne'er-do-ills, all of whom are the sharpest shooters in the West, and returns to take on the Bad Guys' hired army.

What Fuqua fails to understand is that zero characterisation and a permanent state of war leads to an epidemic of lazy eye which affects the ability of the sufferer to recognise the thrill of sudden death, or the infinite subtlety of stunt work in a CGI universe.

The result of this overindulgent pastiche and its possible box office success is that someone in the forest of Holly is considering The Gunfight At The OK Corral as the next in line for the wrecking ball. Is nothing sacred?

Reviewed on: 23 Sep 2016
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Seven gunmen team up to help save a village from an evil mining boss.
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SSFF 2016

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Seven Samurai