Tuesday, 20 September 2016

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Solid Kurosawa/Sturges Remake

Seven new samurai with six-shooters!!!
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
Dir. Antoine Fuqua
Scr. Nic Pizzolatto, Richard Wenk
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke,
Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo,
Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Akira Kurosawa's epic 1954 Seven Samurai weaves the stirring tale of a group of ronin defending a town of simple folk in 14th Century Japan from hordes of bandits. It is indeed a classic, a masterpiece and quite easily one of the greatest action movies of all time. When John Sturges remade the picture as a western in 1960 with Yul Brynner taking the role originally played by Toshiro Mifune, he didn't quite craft anything in the tour de force department, but he gave us an oater that's as iconic of the old west as it is a rip-snorter.

Antoine Fuqua's 2016 remake might not match the Sturges picture, but it's still a solid, kick-ass western and in its own way gains a bit on the delivery front by peppering us with an almost ludicrous body count, all very efficiently directed by the skillful Training Day helmer.

A bit of Lee-Byung-hun goes a long way.
Denzel Washington takes the sword/reins from Mifune and Brynner, acquitting himself ably as the bounty hunter who recruits a perfect cocktail of miscreants to rescue a small town from an evil land baron (delectably played by he of the perpetual sneer, Peter Sarsgaard). The fine all-star cast includes such robust recognizable talents as Chris Pratt (the smart-ass), Ethan Hawke (the sharpshooter) and Vincent D'Onofrio (the burly munitions expert), adds a nice bit of Asian martial arts/blade play from Lee Byung-hun and some very welcome guns-a-blazing from the babe-o-licious Haley Bennett. (If there's anything more boner-or-wet-crotch-inducing than babes with guns, I have yet to discover what that might be.)

A babe with a gun.
A babe hell-bent on vengeance.
Always win-win.
Speaking of boners and wet crotches, when Haley Bennet says, "I seek righteousness, but I'll take revenge," I cannot imagine anyone in the audience, neither boys nor girls, feeling anything less than glorious gooseflesh. It's to the credit of screenwriters Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk that some lovely revenge backstories come to the fore to provide added oomph, not just for the comely Bennett, but Washington's character also - he's got himself a humdinger of reason to wreak havoc.

Fuqua and his team definitely go the distance with the humdinger screenplay and serve up several truly spectacular action set pieces, not the least of which feature horses and their riders thundering across the plains of a big old American west.

There's really nothing new under the sun here, but goddamn, it's a lot of fun.


The Magnificent Seven was a Gala Presentation at TIFF 2016 and will be released wide by Paramount Pictures.