By Nick Erickson, Staff writer
“Every man got the right to choose the way he dies,” prolific actor Denzel Washington tells his crew in “The Magnificent Seven.” Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the remake of a 1960s classic is filled with all the gun-slinging a Western-enthusiast could ask for, while keeping true to its origin. While the plot of this film could be deemed a cliche Western film plot, a classic case of “a hero rallying up a group of heroes to take down a bad guy,” viewers will find entertainment in its energy if they can look past the predictability.
In the year 1879, Bartholomew Bogue, a corrupt and savage man, overtakes the small mining town of Rose Creek, slaughtering locals and holding them under his reign. Residents seek to find someone who could save them, and persuade Washington’s character, Sam Chisolm, a warrant officer, to fight for them. Chisolm gathers a group of six gunslingers who can help him take down Bogue, including Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee). The seven of them set off to liberate the town, facing the dangers of being outgunned and when facing all odds, persevere and stand to fight, no matter the outcome.
Like any other classic Western film, the highpoints of the film aren’t centered on the characters or even the plot, but rather the intensity and thrill. There are only a handful of shootouts within the film, but whenever they do happen, they are exhilarating. Bogue proves himself to be equipped enough to stand against the seven, and he, alongside his forces, puts up a fight as the seven make their way to their last stand.
Character development throughout the film seems to focus more on some characters, rather than others. Obviously, attention is focused on Washington’s portrayal, as he is leading the pack, and there is more of a focus on Pratt’s or Hawkes than most. For example, one of the seven, Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a famous Mexican outlaw, is less focused on, and you learn much less about his backstory. While it’s somewhat strange that each character does not have an equal amount of development, it does not hinder the main plot in any form.
In addition to the interesting development, Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), the widow of one of the men Bogue killed in the beginning of the film, ends up partaking in the group’s endeavors part of the way through the film, proving herself to be a helpful hand fighting alongside the men. She ends up getting her personal taste of revenge on Bogue when all is said and done, which provides a great feeling of satisfaction.
The days of Wild West films being in abundance are long over, and now they are few and far between. “The Magnificent Seven” might be a remake, and indeed does reuse a rehashed plot, but it still manages to stand out among other movies being released. “The Magnificent Seven” might not top the original in some eyes, or rival other Westerns such as “True Grit” or “Tombstone,” but will hold viewers’ attention throughout the smoke, dust and revolver shots.