The Magnificent Seven Reviewed
The story doesn’t get much simpler than this—a town hires a group of seven gunman made up of gamblers, outlaws, murderers and whatever Vincent D’Onofrio was (more on him later) to stop an even worse man from taking over the town of Rose Crick. This is a classic Western movie with a classic Western feel.
The Magnificent Seven opens on a meeting taking place in a church as the town tries to figure out how to stop Batholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). I swear I will stop comparing the two movies after this, but Sarsgaard is no Eli Wallach. Wallach was one of the best parts about the 1960 movie and while the new opening sets the tone, Sarsgaard doesn’t seem as formidable.
In the very next scene we are introduced to our hero Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) who is more or less a bounty hunter. He is looking for a wanted man and Chisholm showcases his skill with a gun when met with hostilities at the saloon. I feel bad saying this but as this scene was happening I kept expecting someone to mention something about the fact that a black cowboy just walked into the bar. After all, this is a movie is set in the South, during the 1870s, where the recent Civil War is still referred to as The War of Northern Aggression. I thought for sure someone would let the N word slip but it never comes. Director Antoine Fuqua talked about this and simply said that was not the movie he wanted to make; he wanted to make a movie about Denzel Washington riding a horse and shooting guns and you know what, I can get behind that.
The other stand out performance for me was Vincent D’Onofrio who walks out as this big bear of a man and then starts talking in a combination of bible quotes and pure gibberish. in a squeaky voice. At first I found it distracting, but the more I saw how over the top the other actors were trying to be, I relented and started laughing. D’Onofrio is either a genius or insane; either way you do you Vinny D.
I think fans of the Western genre that can let The Magnificent Seven stand on its own merits without constant comparison to the old movie will like this movie. If Fuqua wanted a more modern update he would have cut out some of the chit chat and kept this movie under two hours, but that is not what he wanted to do. Fuqua wanted to watch Denzel Washington ride a horse in a classic Western—and if that’s what you want, too, you will like this movie. B-