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Review: The Magnificent Seven – “Like The Avengers wearing Stetsons”

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Director Antoine Fuqua (The Replacement Killers) reunites with his Training Day stars, Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke, for a remake of the classic western The Magnificent Seven. Rounding out the septuplet are Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy), Vincent D’Onofrio (Men in Black), Byung-hun Lee (The Good, the Bad, the Weird), Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (Cake), and Martin Sensmeier (Westworld).

When an evil businessman, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), rolls into a small Old West town with the intention of buying it from the residents for a pittance and strip mining it, the poor townsfolk protest. Big mistake. Bogue guns the dissidents down and sets fire to their church. One of the victims is Matthew Cullen (Matt Bomer), and his heartbroken wife Emma (Haley Bennett) sets off to hire some gunslingers to save the town from Bogue.

Chisholm (Washington) accepts the job for reasons his own, and he and a loveable libertine cardsharp and shootist, Josh Faraday (Pratt), assemble the rest of the posse: legendary civil war hero Goodnight Robicheaux (Hawke), bear-like mountain man Jack Horne (D’Onofrio), Chinese duellist Billy Rocks (Lee), Mexican-with-a-bounty-on-his-head Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), and Indian-on-a-spirit-quest Red Harvest (Sensmeier). The gang have under a week to reinforce the settlement and train up the townspeople before Brogue arrives with an army to wipe them all out.

The group dynamic between the Magnificent Seven themselves is the film’s biggest strength, and multiple jesting, fighting and making up scenes feel extremely influenced by Marvel’s Avengers’ interactions. Washington does not feel quite right though, and that may be because his character’s cards are played too close to his chest for far too long making him distant and uninteresting when versus a chorus line that features a fantastically fearsome and sweet D’Onofrio, as well as the line and scene stealing Vasquez and Red Harvest.

With Denzel firing blanks, Pratt provides charm and charisma for two, but he’s sometimes left hanging, and his character’s murders at the beginning don’t jive with the goofball he’s playing. Hawke is great as a PTSD-ridden civil war-surviving sharp shooter, and paired with Lee’s strong silent and rad Billy Rocks the two have a heartwarming codependent relationship.

Rulfo is under dealt though, and sometimes even left out of montages that include everyone else. This is a real shame as he is dry, funny and much needed to check some of Pratt’s Faraday’s Trump-ian Mexican bashing. Haley Bennet’s Emma regularly threatens to be portrayed as an equal, but as tough and good-with-a-gun as she is, it is sad to see her mostly reduced to sweaty cleavage.

The action scenes are great, and a thoroughly exciting modern take on classic Western situations, with the tense staring exchanges prior to anyone throwing down being just as exciting as the bullet ballets. An embarrassing final coda that heavy handedly emotionally invalidates some key losses with a desperate attempt to shoe horn in the film’s title ends the things on a titter instead of a tear, but playing like The Avengers wearing Stetsons, The Magnificent Seven is a lot of rootin’ tootin’ fun.

3.5-out-of-5

The Magnificent Seven hits cinemas on 23rd September 2016.

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