FlixChatter Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

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I gotta admit, I’m not much of a Western fan. Though interestingly enough, I’ve liked three western remakes in the past decade: 3:10 To Yuma, True Grit and then this one. Confession: I have NOT seen any of the original films. Now, people who have seen the original films would likely have a different opinion about the remake. For me, I guess I get the benefit of seeing the story for the first time, with nothing to compare it with.

The main draw for me to see this is the cast. Reportedly director Antoine Fuqua pitched the film to financiers with ‘Denzel Washington in all black riding a horse.’ Well if I were one of those financiers I’d definitely say ‘hell yeah’ to that, and that is quite a sight to behold. As with a lot of Westerns, well those I’ve seen anyway, we see the lone hero riding into town on his horse before we finally see his face. It’s interesting that Denzel being Black in that era naturally drives extra attention from townsfolk, even more so as he goes into a saloon. He’s definitely got the natural charisma, and here he’s got that cowboy swagger to boot!

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In the opening scene, we see a merciless and cruel industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (a slimy Peter Sarsgaard) terrorizing and murdering people in the tiny town for their land and mines. Poor Matt Bomer barely lasted past the opening credits! The first half pretty much is a recruiting process as Denzel’s Sam Chisolm gathered enough men to fight against Bogue and his men. First one he recruited is Josh Faraday (a great name that fits Chris Pratt nicely), a strapping cowboy w/ a devil-may-care attitude. Next  are Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and his partner in crime Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), tall-dark-and-handsome Mexican outlaw Vazquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), skilled tracker Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and lastly, Comanche warrior Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). Each member of the awesomely-monikered gang has their own special skills, and given that Fuqua employed actors of various races, the skill is tailored to their heritage. Billy Rocks is a knife-wielding expert and Red Harvest is a master in archery, etc. but of course all of them are adept with guns as well. Out of the seven riders, naturally Denzel is my fave. Pratt looks like he’s having a blast here and I really like the dynamic between Hawke and Lee as the unlikely BFFs. I also couldn’t help swooning over Garcia-Rulfo, I sure hope to see more of Mexican actor in the future.


I have a great time watching this thanks to the eclectic cast. Apart from the calm and wise Chisolm, they look like they could be killing each other too and the banters are pretty fun throughout. Naturally this is not a character-driven piece, so details such as what exactly happened to Robicheaux is unclear. The only one with somewhat of a backstory is Chisolm, which isn’t revealed until the very end. Given that it’s 2016, writers Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto updated the story with a strong woman in the core of the conflict. Emma Cullen (newcomer Haley Bennett) isn’t so much a damsel in distress, as she actively seeks out Chisolm to help avenge her town and she refuses to just sit and watch the battle unfolds. I think the weakest link here is Sarsgaard who is more annoying than menacing. Even the last mano-a-mano is rather lackluster as he barely hold a candle to Denzel in terms of charisma and screen presence.

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The action and shootouts are what one would expect, peppered with humor and one liners, mostly from Pratt. Some of the action is preposterous, as some of the heroes manage to stay alive despite being shot several times but they can take down their enemies with a single bullet. But hey, I was expecting a fun action comedy instead of a deep, story-driven piece, so I’m not exactly disappointed. What it lacks in genuine suspense it’s more than made up by the well-staged action and stunning cinematography. I sure hope Mauro Fiore‘s name will come up during award season as he’s done amazing work here that made me wish I had seen this movie on IMAX! He’s a longtime Fuqua collaborator who’s also the DP for Avatar.

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I have to mention the fantastic music as well. The late James Horner wrote seven pieces of the score before he died, so this was his last project. His wonderful score still has a bit of the iconic theme by Elmer Bernstein, and I love that they used the rousing original score (which I called the Marlboro score as it’s used in its commercial) at the end of the movie. I’m definitely going to do a Music Break on it as my hubby and I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all weekend!

I’m glad I saw this movie and it’s one I don’t even mind seeing again. I can’t tell you if it’s as magnificent as the original, but if you’re looking for a fun ride full of entertaining characters, you could do far worse than this remake. In fact, my hubby and I are contemplating about seeing this again on an IMAX screen, it just might be the first Western I’m willing to see twice on the big screen!

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Have you seen this movie? Well, did you like it more or less than I did?

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31 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

  1. As an old hand of the western, and one who has railed against the tendency of Hollywood ‘remaking’ classics (the recent BEN-HUR attempt only makes my case for me as to the folly), I tell you will all sincerity, I truly enjoyed the hell out of this. If studios periodically update such things, this is how you do it. So glad to hear we’re in sync on this, Ruth. Wonderful review.

    1. Wahoo!! I was really curious to hear from those who have seen the original AND a big fan of this genre, glad we’re in agreement. I think the cast, esp. the great Denzel is superb here and the supporting cast are a lot of fun too. Fuqua did a good job here that proofs not ALL remake is created equal.

      P.S. Speaking of Ben-Hur, well I had planned on doing a loooong musing post but I haven’t got around to it. I still plan on writing it as I have a lot to say, but yeah it’s definitely far inferior to the original.

  2. Howdy Ruth! (See what I did there?). I reviewed this last week and we saw it the same. Really had fun with it for most of the reasons you mentioned. The cast is a blast and it accomplished exactly what it intended – to be an entertaining action western. I really like the original and this one lives up to its spirit. This version definitely modernizes things but not always in a bad way. I thought it was a hoot.

    1. Ha!! Howdy Keith, yeee haw! 😀 I’ve written this one a week ago but just haven’t got around to posting it. It’s funny that I’ve enjoyed a lot of Western remakes (well just 3 but that’s quite a lot for me), but this one might be my fave! Do you think if I go back to watch the original I’d be as wowed by it? I mean, I think the diverse characters made it fun as it’s kind of a novelty, y’know? Esp. that Billy Rocks guy, it seems so jarring to see a Korean actor in a Western but it worked!

      1. I don’t know if you would be wowed by it but it is really good. Less action but some good characters. Yul Bryner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, James Coburn…really good cast.

        1. Yul Bryner is the Denzel character right? Yeah I might give it a shot, though I said that about 3:10 To Yuma and True Grit and never did get around to it. I still haven’t seen Unforgiven either, that’s one Western everyone said I should check out.

          1. Yep, Denzel takes Yul’s place. Unforgiven is a good movie although I will say it’s never been one I considered among my favorite westerns. Still worth seeing though.

              1. Once Upon a Time in the West is one of my favorite movies ever made. I love Sergio Leone’s trilogy with Clint Eastwood but Once Upon a Time is phenomenal. Also really like My Name is Nobody, High Noon, 3:10 to Yuma, and Open Range

                1. Ah right, Once Upon a Time in the West! I want to see High Noon too as I like the two main leads in that. Maybe I should warm up to Westerns, there are ton of good films in that genre. I certainly would rather watch that genre than horror/slasher flicks or crude comedies!

                  1. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest westerns fan. I’m very picky. Many beloved westerns just aren’t my cup of tea. The two you mentioned are definitely must-sees

                    1. Good to know! I think coming from someone who’s not a huge Western fan is helpful Keith, so thanks for the recommendations!

  3. I enjoyed the original, which was of course a remake of Seven Samurai, but I was never in love with it. I think it’s way outdated if you watch the film today though, still good but I don’t think it’s anything special. I wanted to check out this remake but was too busy and forgot to go see it on opening weekend. FYI, it’s no longer playing the zoo’s IMAX theater. It only played there for one week. 😦 I think I’ll just wait to see it on Bluray.

    1. I wasn’t planning on going to the zoo, but maybe at the *fake* IMAX at Southdale or EP, as the press screening was at a smaller theater. I’d think the original might not be as entertaining for me. I really like this cast, Byung Hun Lee is perhaps my fave Asian actor right now, he’s got charisma and comedic chops, I hope Hollywood keeps hiring him. But of course the main star is Denzel who can do no wrong in my book.

      1. Oh you know what, it’s not playing at any IMAX theater. I think Sony only signed like a one week showing at all IMAX locations. Had it been a hit at the box office, I’m sure they’ll pay IMAX some more money to show the film there longer. I might check it out this weekend since, maybe do a double matinee along with Affleck’s new action picture The Accountant.

        Have you seen Byung Hun Lee’s other films, the non Hollywood ones? He starred in many dramas and I think you might enjoy some of those. I can give some recommendations if you’re interested.

        1. Oh yeah I’d love to check them out if they’re more dramas instead of gory action flicks. I like his calm demeanor, so unperturbed n cool. He’s much younger than he looks too, but he’s got gravitas. Ok good to know about the IMAX thing, Oh and I’m seeing The Accountant tomorrow night!

          1. If I remember correctly the only ultra violent film he did was I See The Devil, that’s the one I won’t recommend for you. In fact I think he’s been cast in mostly action films here in States was because of that film, he’s done mostly dramas in his native country. If you can find them, you might enjoy Once In a Summer, Hero and Addicted. Also, he starred in a weird western called The Good, the Bad and The Weird.

            1. Ok I’ll avoid that one. Oooh I remember an interviewer asking him about The Good, the Bad and The Weird, I might check that out. Thanks for the other recommendations, hopefully it’s available to stream somewhere.

  4. I don’t have any interest in seeing this as I’ve seen the original film as well as The Seven Samurai which I more prefer as it’s also my favorite Akira Kurosawa film. If it’s on TV, I’ll probably watch it.

    1. You’re missing out Steven 😉 I suppose not having seen either one of those classic films, I had a blast w/ this one and the scenery looks incredible on the big screen!

      1. I don’t need to. I know what will happen. Plus, The Seven Samurai is just a knockout visually but also has a lot more stake in the drama. If you haven’t seen it. See it as a Blind Spot.

  5. I’m glad you liked this one as much as I did! The cast was absolutely brilliant in every respect, and I know how Funque on my radar. I read some whiny review about the lack of female representation in the movie…as if Haley Bennett’s character wasn’t sufficient…like…really? It’s 1800s…it’s got to maintain elements of realism. I’m not sure how they could throw another female character in when that’s not the point of this film, especially since it’s a remake. Eye roll, honestly.

    1. Hi Courtney! As a woman I naturally love films w/ female characters at the center, but only if it serves the story in a natural way. So yeah, I think that’s a whiny comment, esp since I think Haley’s character is quite integral to the story and she has quite a screen time here, and hey she got to save Denzel! So they certainly couldn’t call her a damsel in distress. I actually like her her more than in Girl On The Train.

  6. Denzel was my favourite too, he was great. I liked that his colour was present but not the focus of the story. That’s likely not historically accurate but I think it was a good decision to keep the focus on the relationships and conflicts between the titular characters (and between them and Sarsgaard’s massive gang).

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