THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Direction: Antoine Fuqua
Actors: Denzel Washington, Chris Patt, Ethan Hawke
Rating: 2 / 5
The magnificence of the titular septet is barely discernible in this unwarranted update of the 1960 Western that was itself a remake of the 1954 Japanese classic Seven Samurai.
While the Akira Kurosawa and John Sturges films were set in small rural villages in Japan and Mexico respectively, the latest iteration unfolds in a hardscrabble American frontier town, circa 1879.
Borrowing the basic template from its progenitors, the run-of-the mill action-adventure zeroes in on seven sharp-shooters who saddle up to stop a tyrannical industrialist and his trigger-happy henchmen from terrorising the populace.
The band of protectors is led by a taciturn bounty hunter (Denzel Washington). Undaunted by the overwhelming odds, he is also determined to ensure that a widow (Haley Bennett) gets retribution for her husband’s murder at the hands of the arch-villain.
Among the rest of the half-dozen disreputable hombres, there’s a crack sniper (Ethan Hawke), a hard-drinking gambler (Chris Pratt) and a Bible-spouting tracker (the versatile Vincent D’Onofrio).
In a token nod to diversity a Mexican, a Comanche and an ace Chinese knife-thrower (South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee taking over the role immortalised by James Coburn in the 1960 film) are also thrown into the mix.
African-American director Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw) revels in nonstop carnage, especially in the protracted and noisy climactic shootout. Even the beleaguered widow turns out to be adept with a shotgun.
To its credit, the film is superbly shot, in widescreen, on 35mm celluloid.
Collaborating with Antoine Fuqua for a third time (after Training Day and The Equalizer) Washington, dressed in black from head to toe, is convincing in the first cowboy role of his career.
Peter Sarsgaard, though, is miscast as the baddie, a role which will be always associated with Eli Wallach in the Sturges movie.
Recommended, but only for those unfamiliar with the more entertaining 1960 version.