Denzel Washington rides through The Magnificent Seven as bounty hunter Sam Chisolm, and Chris Pratt saddles up as gambler Josh Faraday. Faraday gets involved because Chisolm owns his horse. They and five actors play men with various weapon skills who are hired by the citizens of Rose Creek to defend them from the vicious killers hired by mine owner and millionaire Bartholomew Bogue.
I’m not going to say the film isn’t good. I cut my movie teeth on westerns and have loved them since I was a kid. Most people my age grew up with TV’s The Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Maverick, Wagon Train and a dozen others. Movies of the era ranged from John Ford and John Wayne to High Noon and 3:10 to Yuma. Later, they evolved into the Clint Eastwood Man with No Name films and more violent affairs like Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch. The western could be as deep as Unforgiven or as fun as the comic character studies of Cat Ballou, Support Your Local Sheriff and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
In other words, westerns, while mostly predictable and cliche — including the original The Magnificent Seven — are usually packed with personality. Many are loaded with humor and multi-dimensional characters. Even those that aren’t that deep are at least fun.
These days, there aren’t many westerns, and in an era devoid of them, The Magnificent Seven gets positive points just because it is a western. Positive points yes, but is it all that good? Director Antoine Fuqua — still riding on his Training Day fame — has basically put together a paint-by-numbers movie. You never get the sense that a natural course of events is unfolding. Surprisingly, and considering the exceptional cast, the film also lacks personality. Only Peter Sarsgaard — who plays Bogue — is the only character who is having fun.
No one else does. So in spite of some terrific action sequences and world-class gun fights, The Magnificent Seven just isn’t.
The Magnificent Seven
Director: Antoine Fuqua
Stars: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Haley Bennett, Peter Sarsgaard
Mr. Movie rating: 3 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and violence. It’s playing at the Carmike 12, the Fairchild Cinemas and Queensgate 12s, and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.