By Liz Lopez
The Magnificent Seven is anything but original, as the first feature made by the same name was in 1960, and is a Western enjoyed to this day by the elders who are familiar with that version of it. Even that feature is a remake of 1950s Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. The 41st Toronto International Film Festival started off with the current version starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt. For the most part, I am not fond of many of the remakes that are done from original films that are great as is, but despite that the plot of men who are not necessarily on the right side of the law band together for a cause is not new over the last few decades, I still thoroughly enjoyed director Antoine Fuqua’s version of the Western based on the screenplay by Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk. Did I know what to expect? Of course, but this band of seven gunslingers entertained me as they kept the action moving – of course, action I had seen before with a little bit of humor to boot.
Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), a bounty hunter, arrives in town to do business and learns from the townsfolk there is a landgrabber, Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), who takes what he wants and if there is any lip about it, he does not hesitate to shoot people in cold blood. Chisolm agrees to help the recently widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennet) for a price and also travels to gather those who have the skills to help.
While Washington’s character is the leader and stays serious, Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt) is the darling, yet reckless bad boy who frequently uses card tricks to get out of hot water. His character has the best line and fits Pratt to a tee. I will see this film again just to see this star any day.
The rest of the band of machos are a former Confederate soldier, Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a friend of Chisolm’s. He comes as a package deal with his skilled Asian partner, Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee). Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), is given the name as being a “Texican,” but it was not one that the character seemed to care for. A Comanche, Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), rides into their camp and he joins them after he bonds with Chisolm over raw meat. Vincent D’Onofrio stars as Jack Horne, who is a burly, strong dude wearing a long furry animal-tail cap. One of my favorite lines by Pratt’s character when he first seems him in action is “I believe that bear was wearing people’s clothes.”
They do their best to help the people of Rose Creek, and although they don’t all survive, they give a go with whatever they have on hand. I was so glad to see that Bogue sleeze slithering away and get his in the end.
Do I want to see Manuel Garcia-Rulfo in other films? Oh, but of course. In case you don’t recognize him in Western clothing, he is Narciso Menendez in “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” (TV) and Arturo, in the film Cake, starring Jennifer Aniston.
The film has an MPAA Rating of PG-13 and a running time of 128 minutes.
Source: Photo courtesy of Colombia Pictures