Review: ‘The Magnificent Seven’ Modernizes The Western Genre

Title: The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Summary: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves.

The Hollywood model of the re-make is one that seems like it is based on the idea that a known property is guaranteed to make money back. This model only seems to work about a third of the time as most of the remakes just redo the movie with modern techniques and don’t do anything new or interesting with them. It’s remakes that take an old movie and do something new with them that succeed. The intent behind this remake of a western classic is to take the old model, polish it, add what audiences like about modern movies and see if it works. It’s not a risk but it is better than just re-making the original shot for shot.

The Magnificent Seven takes a classic and modernizes it with a much more diverse and interesting cast with what we expect from action movies but can’t overcome the inherent flaws of its own genre.

(l to r) Byung-hun Lee, Ethan Hawke, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D'Onofrio and Martin Sensmeier in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and Columbia Pictures' THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN.
PHOTO BY: Sam Emerson

The cast of The Magnificent Seven is probably the thing that I found the most interesting about this film. While the filmmakers have said that they did not cast with the intention of covering a large spectrum of nationalities it appears it may have been more intentional than they want us to believe. The movie doesn’t go out of its way to comment too much on the various races of the characters but it is nice to see a cast that looks like the real world. In reality there were various races of people in the old west and nods to characters like Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke) and Billy (Byung-hun Lee) using the white man’s ignorance to their advantage isn’t commented on, aside from the occasional one line joke. The jokes, however, don’t feel mean spirited in a way that they easily could have.

While Denzel Washington and Chris Pratt could have played these two roles in their sleep, they are also the two that are given the most screentime. It’s not that either of them are bad or good it’s just not that interesting to see Washington being a stoic badass or Pratt crack jokes as a drunk Irish cowboy. It’s the supporting cast that proves to be the most interesting but their backstories aren’t really fully fleshed out. There are some interesting implications that could have been explored, such as the fact that Vincent D’Onofrio’s character hunting Native America’s at some point and having Martin Sensmeier’s character joining them but it’s never really commented on.

The action scenes are fun to watch but they are sparse and spread thin throughout the entire production. There is a large scale gunfight at the end that is fun to watch but the movie takes a long time to get there. It’s running time of two hours and twelve minutes isn’t as long as some westerns but the long lulls in action are common to the genre. While those familiar with the western will likely not find this a flaw, a more modern blockbuster audience might find the waits a little too long.

The Magnificent Seven has some great performances but it still feels as if it was lacking a few things that could have made it great. Perhaps if it played with the genre a bit more it could have been a classic, but instead it is a western modernized for the current blockbuster market. It will probably do well but it’s not going to be the instant classic that it clearly wants to be.

Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth
Kaitlyn Booth is a writer, film critic, comic lover, and soccer fan based in Salt Lake City. She has covered such events as the Sundance Film Festival, San Diego Comic Con, and New York Comic Con and been a special guest and panelist at Salt Lake Comic Con and FanX. She has a deep fondness for female superheroes and independent film.