• The Magnificent Seven (2016) - One of the better remakes supporting the contemporary western revival - 7/10 (11/10/16)

    The Magnificent Seven (2016)

    The Magnificent Seven is the remake of a remake that neither has the epic intensity of the original ''Seven Samurai'' movie by Kurosawa Akira from 1954 nor the outstanding acting skills portrayed in John Sturges' ''The Magnificent Seven'' from 1960. Still, this new version offers a fast-paced ride involving great actors, gripping action scenes and fitting settings that bring back the spirit of a cool genre that has gone out of vogue over the past four decades to a new generation.

    The different characters are introduced in short but fitting ways. They are unique and likable enough to make the audience care about them. Veteran Denzel Washington convinces as cool and clever law enforcer with a mysterious past and plays a strong lead character in his very first western. Chris Pratt convinces as cunning and humorous gambler underlining his status as one of the best young American actors. Vincent d'Onofrio stands out as cranky and quirky trapper and proves once again that he is one of the best choices to play odd and unusual characters. Ethan Hawke does a respectable job as haunted sharpshooter but it would have been interesting to get some more background information about his versatile character. The other actors and actresses are solid but have the problem to portray somewhat stereotypical characters such as the silent Asian killer, the proud Mexican assassin, the courageous Indian practising strange rituals or the brave young widow determined to seek justice and revenge. While the diversity of the cast might attract a larger audience, it feels somewhat forced and definitely unrealistic from a historic point of view.

    The first hour is dedicated to the introduction of the seven gunslingers, the mistreated villagers and the pitiless villains in an entertaining way. The second hour is almost entirely based upon the showdown between the gunslingers and the villagers on one side and the villain's private army trying to reconquer the village on the other side. The battle scenes are quite diversified and intense involving numerous gun fights, a very destructive Gatling gun, archery shots, explosions with dynamite, knife throwing, numerous traps and some hand-to-hand combat. Despite its length, the final battle never gets redundant. Some of the fights seem to be unrealistically exaggerated in the beginning but end up being more grounded ad realistic towards the end. Despite its generous rating, there is a lot of violence in these scenes and both sides of the belligerents have a heavy price to pay. It only fits the traditional western genre that both heroes and villains aren't invincible and politically correct but actually swearing, smoking, killing, drinking and dying in this movie. Those who were afraid to get a politically correct contemporary plastic product might be relieved that this film actually respects the original movie and its first remake as well as the style of several western classics from the sixties. 

    In the end, there isn't anything wrong with this entertaining movie. Both traditional western aficionados and younger generations should enjoy this fast-paced western with its authentic settings, intriguing characters and furious action scenes. While this revamped version is missing Kurosawa's epic storytelling or the stunning performances by legendary actors such as Eli Wallach, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson in the first remake, this new interpretation comes surprisingly close to the quality of these two movies and is worth to be watched at your local movie theatre.

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