Movie review: ‘The Magnificent Seven:’ A flawed remake of a classic
Sometimes one goes to a movie with high hopes, as I did when it went to “The Magnificent Seven” this week at the Galaxy. Having lived in Tokyo when the original Japanese movie on which the “Seven” was based, I had fond memories of Akira Kurosawa’s superb “The Seven Samurai” and Toshiro Mifune’s acting. It has remained highly influential, often seen as one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema. Director Antoine Fuqua said his approach to the remake was because the same evils in the original are still with us tyranny and terrorism still prevails as it did in “Seven Samurai.”
“Seven Samurai” was later remade by Hollywood as The Magnificent Seven with Steve McQueen and Yul Brynner in the ‘60s.
It has remained highly influential, often seen as one of the most “remade, reworked, referenced” films in cinema.
“The Magnificent Seven” director John Sturges first took “Seven Samurai” and adapted it to the Old West, with the samurai replaced by gunslingers. Many of “The Magnificent Seven’s” scenes mirror those of “Seven Samurai.” Takashi Shimura was the star samurai of the Kurosawa film which takes place in 1586.
In the current film the bad guys are led by an industrialist Bogue who burns the town church and kills protesters. Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), and her friend, Teddy Q (Luke Grimes), ride to the nearest town in search of someone who can help them and come upon bounty hunter Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), who initially declines their proposal until he learns of Bogue’s involvement.
Chisolm sets out to recruit a group of gunslingers who can help him, starting with gambler Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt). They are later joined by sharpshooter Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and notorious Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo). Washington plays Sam Chisolm (“the Bounty Hunter”), a duly sworn warrant officer from Wichita, Kansas, who goes after bad guys. Washington’s character was renamed from Chris Adams (played by Yul Brynner in the earlier film) to Sam Chisolm.
A major problem with the current “Seven” is that they have no unifying ethics as did the samurai with their Bushido code, so the current film don’t hold up.
Some things carry through. The town preparing for the vandal attack creates defenses and mobilizes to repeal the bad guys and they do a pretty good job of it. The battle scenes mirror Kurosawa’s multi-camera positions and the battle scenes work well.
Too bad can’t say the same for the rest of “Seven.” Denzel is big and imposing but the rest of the cast is only adequate. But the long shots of Western scenery are impressive and the death toll high.
See this one but I feel sorry for those who watch a flawed remake of a classic. Maybe Netflix could supply the original classic.
Incidentally, took this film in on Tuesday for $6.50, under the Galaxy rewards program.
Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.