Saturday, October 8, 2016

Movie Review: Magnificent 7 (2016)

Magnificent 7 was much better than I had anticipated. The trailer doesn't really show the depth of the film. There are more than a few moments of great acting by lead Denzel Washington, who pulled off the whole "black cowboy" thing very well. I could see him in the shoes of Roland Deschain for sure, and I feel much more comfortable now with the Idris Elba choice in that role next year. There are still some who might be put off by the idea of more racially diverse characters, but good acting is just good acting in my book. Regardless, the man was phenomenal. It was the kind of film I could watch and get really excited whenever he appeared on screen, because I knew that something great was going to happen. One of the best damn cowboys I've seen on film, but I haven't seen enough to truly judge. After all, I  haven't seen a lot of westerns, they never really appealed to me - until now.

Some might prefer the original cast to this one, but the newcomers all did a good job, except for one in particular - Chris Pratt. A cowboy he is not, and should never be. The magic trick in the beginning was unusually entertaining, but after that, his boyish silliness just felt out of place in the Eastwood-esque character that he was trying so hard to be. Stick to more modern fantasy work, Pratt. Loved you in Guardians, but you annoyed the shit out of me in this.

The film had decent bits of comedy, even though it opens and ends on both a crushingly painful note. Washington's scene with the villain in the church was mesmerizing. The villain's performance (I didn't catch his name) was threatening, but I felt that he was kind of a coward in the fact that he mostly stood around and let everyone else do the fighting. He was good at terrorizing people in the name of capitalism, but when it came to a gunfight, he was so painfully insulting that you felt good when he'd been put out of his misery.

Then we have the chick from Hunger Games, (good thing I'm not turning this into any publicists) who does pull off the kind of "rebel woman that doesn't want to take care of the women and children and would rather fight with the men" role rather well. She never officially joins the seven gunslingers, but she does deliver the last shot in the film. It feels like she was suffocated and tried to get in as many parts as she could, as the film apparently had no female lead before and she had to halfway fill that as an unofficial eighth member. Of the several roles in the film that fit, hers felt kind of forced. Maybe she was in it for twenty minutes at most? Thirty, perhaps?

Magnificent 7 is basically a revenge film, with what feels like an hour of gunfights and explosions behind what is an exceedingly long build-up. Though I feel that you get your money's worth. It certainly has a lot of action, but there's no real kung-fu aside from knife play and the only modern style weaponry is a gatling gun used as a villain's trump card. It feels like the gatling gun belongs though, as it isn't high-tech and was operated through a crank mechanism. This is not a spaghetti western and doesn't stray too far from it's western roots. Don't trust that shitty trailer, this is indeed a real western, with a western musical score as well.

I haven't seen the original, but this reboot is actually not all that bad. I can see how some would get as upset as I was over Pratt's dumb quips, but you could certainly be watching worse modern westerns than this. If you're looking for gunfighting that seemingly never ends until every man is down, and enjoy seeing the story of an unlikely crew joined together towards a common goal with a shocking ending note, then give Magnificent 7 a try.

(2hrs, 7m)


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