Thoughts on “The Magnificent Seven” (2016)

by weslar

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The revival of a classic western genre is catapulted by the cast that will ultimately define the new generation of classic heroes and tropes. A giving dynamic that represent different corners of the Western genre that it feels fresh and also very reminiscent of the classics.

As the story goes, seven men form to take on an oppressive villain through glorious action packed shoot outs and so does that story get told here. The story is tried and true very much seen but champed through its iterations and from the perspective of a fan of westerns, The Magnificent Seven embellishes the heart and the soul of those classic films. Although not to trample on the way a western is made, it’s created as an homage in the sense that it’s very much grounded in the types of characters seen, and the role they play as to each be separate from one another.

The films cast, chosen very wisely consists of the seven, the magnificent seven, those being Chisolm (Denzel Washington), Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio) and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier). The process of meeting each character isn’t the focus for the films story, it doesn’t take too much time away from the seven of them interacting with one-another, other than to give insight to what they can do and what they’d bring to the team.

The premise of their mission is to take back land derived from them by Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) & Teddy Q (Luke Grimes) request revenge on behalf of the bereaved town living in fear under Bart’s thumb. Chisholm accepts and on the search for men to pull this feat off.

The use of classic western tropes provide enough nostalgia to relish in, but not too much that takes away from a new experience. The over the top, how the hell did they survive that approach sprinkles on the fun whilst not being too ridiculous when it comes down to the finale as everything becomes more realistic.

Each character provides their own story and depth, not an explicit amount of backstory but an idea of the characters history and turmoil they’ve have survived. Which doesn’t take away from the impact of their interactions and their likability, it is more focused on the interactions between the group than it is on each individual character.

Although some get more backstory than others which seems to be the usual affair for a film with a larger ensemble cast. The 12A rating also affects how much we see and what is altered to imply rather to display – which is a missed opportunity tonally which creates a more slapstick appeal.

The choice to make each character essentially the Terminator reduces the appeal or empathy felt towards any one of the characters on screen, which constrains the appeal to being attached to a character involved.

The Magnificent Seven took me back to a place as a child when old westerns would be played on TV and the over-the-top action and suspense played full into my imagination is replicated here. When expecting very little, I was surprised to have a great time whilst watching this film, although it’s skimping over character development in some areas and the fact it’s tame violence & risk reduced the overall impact of the film.

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