Antoine Fuqua delivers a new modern feel to an old and dying genre
Fuqua’s latest movie streak has been terribly dull. With films like The Equalizer and Southpaw, he just delivers mediocre movies that should have been great blockbusters. This time around, Fuqua tries to save a genre that has not been healthy as of late – westerns. The Magnificient Seven looked to make that very genre relevant and modern enough for a current generation. With the help of Chris Pratt, Denzel Washington, and Ethan Hawke, The Magnificient Seven has achieved just that.
Starting out in a small western-like village, we see Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) and her husband (Matt Bomer) trying to find ways to stop the bad guy, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) from taking their village and killing their folks. Her husband is soon killed by Bogue and the audience soon knows that this is going to be a hybrid action-western movie instead of your typical old-school western. Bogue tells the people in the village that he will be back, so Emma hires Sam Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and he assembles a group of diverse men, Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Billy Rocks (Lee Byung-hun), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), to save the people and their village.
Modernizing a genre is always risky business. However, Fuqua did a great job with this. He uses some talented actors to his advantage and creates a rather straightforward and mainstream plot. The journey to assemble these men is a fun one. Getting to know each of them just enough to care and root for them, in the end, is the balance this movie needs. Some funny dialogue is presented, and it makes for some fun moments. The second act is when things get a little slow. The pace changes and the movie dial back to let character development take center stage. The problem is that there’s no development at all. When the action picks back up, the character development has no change in the final ending.
That certainly does not take away from what The Magnificient Seven ultimately becomes – an action-packed, emotional ride. Unexpected things happen, which makes it less of the cliché ending we were expecting. At the same time, it doesn’t completely forget its simplicity either. The build to this excited ending will surely be loved by many people and will even prompt some to forgive the useless slow second act that it produces. The third act is what this film is based upon and for it to be thrilling is a huge pay-off. Without it, the movie stands on nothing and would, therefore, fail.
What ultimately seems like another simple remake is the voice for so many tiring old genres. Antoine Fuqua knows exactly what the modern generation demands while still not forgetting to create a good movie. This could very be the Captain America: Civil War of the western genre and the start of much more.