Denzel Washington Chris Pratt Ethan Hawke Vincent D’Onofrio Haley Bennett
Peter Sarsgaard Byung-hun Lee Manuel Garcia-Rulfo Martin Sensmeier
A motley group of seven men recruited one by one by a Kansas Warranty Officer Chisolm (Washington) band together to rescue a farming town from the evil miner Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard), who wants their land and is willing to give them only a pittance for it and simply kill them if they refuse. Chisolm is retained by Emma Cullen (Bennett), whose husband was one of those killed, but he agrees only after she gives him a significant bit of information.
Gradually, Chisolm meets up with a few malcontents who join him for one reason or another: card shark/gambler/trickster Faraday (Pratt), haunted sharp shooter Robicheaux (Hawke), tracker-with-a-tomahawk Horne (D’Onofrio), knife-wielding assassin Billy Rocks (Lee), Mexican outlaw on the run Vasquez (Garcia-Rulfo), and Comanche arrows and bullets sharp shooter Red Harvest (Sensmeier). These guys are not only colorful in their backgrounds, they bring much of the humor of the movie (sometimes a bit corny), presumably to balance the extreme violence shown in the film. All these actors are superb in their roles, and elevate the film above the mundane script.
Chisolm sends the cowardly sheriff (Dane Rhodes) to take the message to Bogue that the townsmen will not give up without a fight, and that he and his men will be defending them. When Bogue learns there are only seven defenders, he thinks it will be a piece of cake. His lackeys put together a small army, and head toward the town. But Chisolm is a strategist who is able to anticipate his enemy’s maneuvers, and has made detailed plans involving explosive booby traps, trenches, placements of shooters, and even weapons training for the locals. The battle that ensues is bloody and long, complicated by a ferocious weapon mercilessly fired by Bogue.
This remake of two earlier films considered masterful, one in 1954 (Seven Samurai) by Akira Kurosawa, legendary Japanese filmmaker, and one in 1960 (The Magnificent Seven) by John Sturges seems unnecessary. There could have been more updates, such as modernizing and making more realistic—even for the 19th Century—the Bennett character Emma. For example, she defended the town admirably and saved Chisolm’s life, but he didn’t even thank her; instead, he took her gun away from her. The filmmakers made sure that we would see her cry more than once, just to emphasize once again the stereotypical female. Here’s a thought: Include her and call the film The Magnificent Eight.
Musician James Horner should be acknowledged for his contribution to this film. He had made considerable progress on the score, but died before the work was completed, so Simon Frangien was enlisted to complete it. Mauro Fiore’s cinematography does justice to the exquisite western landscape, and his filming of the action scenes is artistic, as is the usual for him.
For western fans not bothered by mediocre remakes, this will hold your attention.
Grade: C By Donna R. Copeland