Sunday, October 2, 2016
THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016)
Directed By: Antoine Fuqua
Based on the Screenplay of THE SEVEN SAMURAI by: Akira Kurosawa, Hideo Oguni & Shinobu Hashimoto
Written By: Richard Wenk & Nic Pizzolatto
Cinematography By: Mauro Fiore
Editor: John Refoua
Cast: Denzel Washinton, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett, Byung-Hun Lee, Manuel-Garcia Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Cam Giganet, Matt Boomer, Luke Grimes, William Lee Scott, Sean Bridgers
Not quite as down and dirty as hoped for, but really what can you expect with this huge budget but a PG-13 structured popcorn film. Handled with care.
Denzel Washington certainly lends the film his star power as you can feel his presence throughout even when necessarily not in the scene. He even gets a great entrance and shootout scene to show how quick he is on the draw and how lethal he can be. You keep that in mind throughout the rest of the movie as you don't really get to see it again until they finally reach the town to first let their presence be known and when defending it. In those scenes he truly shines.
The film for the most part let's it expose the sum of it's sorts individually before hey finally begin to come. Together towards the end. As each character who is part of the magnificent seven get a scene or two to shine and you get to know their personalities through actions
The villain is of course going to be overshadowed by the all-star cast though Peter Sarsgaard tries he certainly has the look down. He has the menacing nature where in an early scene you aren't sure if he is going to kill or harm a child or. It before letting his men massacre the citizens of a church as he burns it down. Yes he's that type of character, but the way he is played in the film I wasn't sure if her was supposed to be eccentric or is he being. Played as a drunk as he seems to be under the influence throughout.
Then in the final scenes the film suffers from the same problems that director Antoine Fuqua and Denzel Washington made together THE EQUALIZER. Where the villain never comes close to being as skilled or as dangerous as the hero. So there is no suspense and you really become a little bored as it all leads to this showdown with a competitor who is no real challenge. Like in boxing matches where some scrub goes up against the champ who doesn't have a losing streak and plenty of knockouts. So it is played up as maybe they have a chance to up sales, but we all know it will be a fast fight that is why we have so many undercards. Which is the magnificent facing off against the great armies of enemies as well as a respective third tier villain for them to challenge and fight against or In the case of the film a weapon known as the Gatling gun
The film offers some modern conveniences such as one character having PTSD from his past fighting in wars and battles. By the end though it feels a little lame with a revelation that feels copied a bit from DJANGO UNCHAINED. Though works for the film as it is hinted at throughout but finally revealed at the end. Though it is that extra ingredient that feels a bit like overkill.
It also seems now to be a trend when trying to remake or Re-Imagine classic films to not only pay homage to them. But here the film. It onto pays homage but seeks to reintroduce common western cliches to the audience. They try to put a spin on them, but they feel like tired ones that they could easily brush past and be as progressive as much as the multiracial aspect of the cast.
Thankfully that goes without saying through much of the film. As some have prejudices that are easily brushed aside and the only Time it comes close to acknowledgement is the beginning when Denzel Washington shows up and is looked st and told we don't serve your kind here which could have double meaning as because he is African-American or because they know he is a lawman.Though wonder if his wearing of black throughout the film. While allowing him to stand out and give a tired cliche a new rule. It just seems a bit over the top wearing all black in the seating sun, but hey it looks cool. So whatever.
This was James Horner's final composition before his death on June 22, 2015 at the age of 61. He only write seven pieces of the score Each character gets their own personality trait and strength.
Haley Bennett's Character is the one who seeks then out to help fight against the villain. She also ends up being the stand in for a strong and resourceful female character fighting alongside them and not just protecting the children and the elderly. Though she also provides eye candy as it seem 75 % of her scenes involves her wearing revealing tops and bodices that can be a distraction for the audience. Not a complaint just a note. Just as since her husband was murdered it seems the film could easily pair her off with two of the seven who show interest in her, but instead they just stick around and advise her. Rather than romance. Which is a welcome change of story that happily resolves itself without much fan fare.
Vincent D'Onofrio is hilarious and heartfelt as the former trapper turned reformed man of god. Who will still kill if threatens or attacked. Though he gives off such a strange yet fragile performance it is noteworthy amongst the others.
As well as Ethan Hawke who is the aging heartthrob but here the once legendary dangerous gunman. Who in his late years is trying to reform as violence makes him Panic and brings back too many flashbacks. Though any other time he is quite charming. It's nice to see him paired up with Denzel Washington and easily falling back into the chemistry they showed together in TRAINING DAY. Especially as their characters here are old comrades.
Chris Pratt plays his usual wise-ass yet dangerous character who has charisma for days and has a rogues personality. Though you know you can trust him. He always has a questionable nature as a gambler and new person to these characters and group. Though is jist as dangerous and colorful
Seeing Byung-hun Lee, brings a smile to my face after remembering Him from the Asian western THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE WEIRD where he was the quite good looking villain who was quick and dangerous on the draw. In That film too but he stuck with guns in that film where here he uses blades, pins and guns.He was also a bad-ass in the film I SAW THE DEVIL and A BITTERSWEET LIFE. I am happy to see him in an American production and I hope leads to more work and maybe even leading roles that are not stereotypical. Even though he has appeared in TERMINATOR: GYNESIS and G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA
The film certainly is a crowd pleaser and is entertaining. Containing a certain richness and depth of quality that some films tend to lack. Sure it is light entertainment, but it feels enriched. It also keeps the violence but tries to keep it clean.
One just wishes they the film could have more of it's own identity. We realize that the film is more mainstream and part of a pedigree of sorts. Which keeps it on a certain perimeter and can't really break out of that too much. One just wishes it would or could be more of a modern type western where it for it's own identity and genre while keeping the western genre aspects more in the background. Other then just being more of an update technically and cast wise for a new generation.
Especially as films with lower budgets and are westerns are having no problem defining themselves within the genre. It also makes the films identity feel like it is more than just that. Films usually go above and beyond the conventions of the typical.