Antione Fuqua’s style of filmmaking is obviously embraced by not just the industry, but laymen as well. A master of build-up and payoff in his own right, his unique edge has been quite a cinematic charm. Agree or disagree, you cannot deny the fact that films like TRAINING DAY, THE EQULIZER, or even SOUTHPAW weren’t interesting, passionate, or powerful in their own way. Lest we forget what TRAINING DAY did for Denzel and/or what Denzel did for TRAINING DAY! Whatever the case, Fuqua’s one of today’s best roughest and rugged filmmakers.
According to my press notes, Westerns being one of his favorite genres since he was a kid, now IN the industry jumped at the opportunity to hash one out. Many thoughts and meetings later, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN felt right. Embracing its predecessor and gathering an ensemble – including Fuqua alums Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke – off he rode.
Fuqua’s modern, yet similar take with THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN exposes us to the town of Rose Creek. Under the deadly control of ruthless businessman Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), desperation hits the townspeople. Led by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), she takes matters into her own hands and employs protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns – Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Farraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Rocks (Byung-Hun Lee), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
I never saw the original (1960), so, I endured this film without a mindset of it being a remake. The end result was quite satisfying as I enjoyed every second of this film. Fuqua once again proves he’s a solid filmmaker with a unique eye for storytelling. Cinematically, the film’s gorgeous to take in. It provides an overall feeling of grit and glory. Interesting characters (played by a flawless cast), engaging buildup, and a payoff that outdoes a lot of action-based films that have been released throughout the year. Displaying a little of everything and then some, it’s a well-written and executed piece. Definitely a wild Western with a touch of contemporary swag.
The edge that comes across the strongest: a tale about a black hero and his six (diverse and ruthless) men who clean up a town from an aggressive, white man. Most Westerns never came across that way – and that’s part of the fun with Fuqua’s SEVEN, along with some Gatling gun play. (Pretty unforgettable)
The only “downfall” I think will be with the older generation. The ones who remember the original. (I heard some snickering on my way out of the screening.) A lot of the upgrade will cause a cringe, as well as maybe having trouble with the audience when they’re trying to determine whether to take the film serious. Or not. Elements of roughness happens to be blended with comedy, causing uneven footing, tied in with scenarios that do not seem plausible in ways it’s presented.
At the end of the day, all the “downers” can be overlooked. As a whole, it’s an overall experience that rides hard and high.
Grade: A- / Genre: Western, Action/Adventure, Remake / Rated: PG-13 / Run Time: 2:12
Starring: Denzel Washington Chris Pratt, Haley Bennett, Lee Byung-hun, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard, Vincent D’Onofrio, Manuel Garcia-Fulfo, Martin Sensmeier
Directed by: Antione Fuqua