Remaking a popular classic is always a bit hit or miss. There have been some major successes – think Oceans Eleven or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Films which have introduced new audiences to exciting and celebrated stories, and haven’t simply reshot the original scene by scene. But many times, a remake falls short of the mark.
Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven falls into the former category – mostly.
Based on the 1960 film directed by John Sturges – which itself is a remake of the Japanese classic Seven Samurai – the film tells the story of an old Western town put under siege by an evil industrialist, Bartholomew Bogue. In an attempt to regain their livelihoods – and earn revenge – the townsfolk enlist the help of a bounty hunter, Sam Chisolm, who in turn hires six others to wage war against Bogue and his henchmen.
Ably leading the Seven is Denzel Washington, commanding an all-star cast which includes Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Peter Sarsgaard and Vincent D’Onofrio. Each cast member gets their time to shine, and while none will be winning any awards for their performances, the ensemble cast works together very well. D’Onofrio, in particular, goes almost unrecognisable after his more recent villainous turns in Marvel’s Daredevil and Jurassic World. And Chris Pratt is simply very good at playing Chris Pratt.
The film really shines through its screenplay and directorship – Nic Pizzolatto, of True Detective fame, creates a funny and highly adventurous script with many lighthearted moments integrated into the darker.
While it’s unlikely to be heralded as a masterpiece – nor can it beat the classic in terms of sheer originality – it’s a fun, high-stakes, popcorn flick that will satisfy anybody who enjoys their action fast-paced and executed with style. It might not be ‘Magnificent’, but it’s certainly ‘Pretty Good.’
The film is out in NZ cinemas from 29 September.
Reviewed by Stewart Sowman-Lund