“The Magnificent Seven” hit theaters this past weekend. (Photo courtesy of Colombia Pictures)
It has only been one week since “Blair Witch,” and there is already a new generic remake of a film that exists solely to make money. At least other remakes use recognizable titles to make a profit; this one could not even do that right.
Set some time after the Civil War, a small town is being threatened by industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and his forces of hired guns. In the hopes of ousting Bogue, the town recruits the help of seven hired fighters of their own.
The movie is split into two sections. The first half is used to establish all of the characters and get them to the town while the second half is used to prepare for and show the final climactic shootout, both of which fail at what they were trying to accomplish.
As stated above, the first half of the movie is dedicated to introducing the characters, but that is a very generous term to be used to describe them. Only three people in the whole movie (Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke) have some mild amount of a character. Everyone else is a blank and forgettable slate, and at least two members of the seven (Joe D’Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier) have no motivation to be risking their lives for the town in the first place.
The second half of the movie is handled well from a directing and action standpoint, but the failures of the first half weigh heavily on it. As it is the epic battle that has been being promised since the beginning of the movie, it would have helped to actually be able to care about any of the characters at all. Instead of seven characters we have come to care about risking their lives for a mission we want them to succeed, we get a bunch of blank slates shooting at equally blank slates that Bogue is idiotically sending forward all at once, in a battle strategy that only Zapp Brannigan would approve of, to just get massacred.
Despite the blank slates that the actors are given, almost all of them do their best with what they are given. The only person who is really bad is Vincent D’Onofrio, who for some reason decided to speak in a high pitched voice that made the words he was saying comprehensible only about half of the time. The only other problem with the cast was that Chris Pratt was not utilized correctly. He is supposed to be a witty member of the group, but then everything witty he does is all punchline and no set up. For example, there is a part where the seven round up some dynamite, and Pratt says, “I’ve always wanted to blow something up,” to which the other six laugh.
Had the movie utilized its characters better and been able to create an emotional core to the movie, it could have been decent. Since it failed to do that one simple task, everything else fell flat.
Final Grade: C-