2-1/2 (out of 4 stars)
Yule Brenner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Robert Vaughn, James Coburn are just some of the stars from the 1960s hit film, The Magnificent Seven. Now 56 years later, Sony, along with Columbia Pictures and a host of other companies, have spent $90 million to recreate the original blockbuster with Director Antoine Fuqua at the helm. This time the cast consists of Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Byung-hun Lee, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo and Martin Sensmeier. Not the same caliber of tough guy actors as in the original, but what do you expect for $90 million?
This is a remake of the classic story with a couple of changes. Peter Sarsgaard plays the villain, Bartholomew Bogue, an industrialist land baron who dominates the town of Rose Creek utilizing hired guns to terrorize the townspeople.
This is a ride into town, shoot them up, let the bullets fly, blow things up type of movie that you expect to see in a western. It's similar to the 2012 film, The Avengers, where Loki leads a race of aliens to take over Earth, starting in New York City, as the Avengers try to defend earth, while destroying everything in sight. However, this film was based in the Old West. At the end, the good guys win, the bad guys lose, and the town is destroyed. Same premise.
While I enjoyed this film, I had a number of issues with the casting. While Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors, it is highly unlikely that a black man would be a bonafide Sheriff, Officer of the Law and Bounty Hunter in 1779. It's the same problem I had with the 1999 film, The Wild Wild West, starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline. Once again, it's just not believable that in the 1800’s (slavery wasn’t abolished until 1865), a black man would be a U.S. Secret Service agent protecting Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States (1869-1877).
It's like putting a square peg in a round hole—it just doesn't fit. So if you could see your way past this impossibility, then you're able to cope with the film. Unfortunately, director Fuqua doesn't delve into the characters as much as he does the fight scenes (which are lots of fun) and in IMAX they look even better. In the end we’re left with a bro love-in, where the bullets fly and the bad guys die. As the widow says to Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington): “He made them murder my husband, he will take everything we have.” (referring to Bogue). Chisholm: “So you seek revenge?” Widow: “I seek righteousness, but I'll take revenge.” That about sums it up pretty good. You can guess the rest.