"The Magnificent Seven" Is A Great Modern Western, But Not Quite Magnificent

This article originally appeared in ZU News.

Although Westerns have faded out of the box office, every few years a movie like “The Magnificent Seven” comes along to show that movies don’t have to be filled with special effects to be successful.

“The Magnificent Seven” is a remake of the 1960 classic with the same title. The characters, plot and setting were adapted but the premise remained the same: seven cowboys unite against an army to save a town.

The modern adaptation of the original screenplay was written by Richard Wenk and Nic Pizzolatto. It was directed by Antoine Fuqua and starred Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke.

Set in the late 1800’s in a small mining town, “The Magnificent Seven” has a simple plot supported by strong characters. The villain Bartholomew Boque storms into town and demands for everyone to leave, offering them the choice of a fraction of what their property is worth or their deaths. He kills the only man who tries to stand up to him.

This man’s wife is brokenhearted and travels to a nearby town to find a bounty hunter. There she meets Sam Chisolm, played by Washington, a police officer who hunts down criminals. She convinces him to help her by offering him all the money she has.

Chisolm agrees and quickly recruits Josh Faraday, a man who can seemingly either talk or shoot his way out of any situation. They set off recruiting five more along the way— a legendary confederate general, a “redskin” bounty hunter, a Mexican outlaw, a Chinese knife thrower and a Native American rebel.

The seven return to the town where the woman is from. They take out the sheriff and his officers that have been bought by Boque. The town rejoices but many of them flee in order to avoid the real battle. Those that stay are mere farmers and the seven have a comically hard time trying to teach them to defend themselves.

As the climax approaches, each character is revealed with their own unique backstory. When the day comes, it’s an army of hundreds armed with a Gatling gun against a few dozen farmers and “The Magnificent Seven.”

Although it didn’t have a high production value, “The Magnificent Seven” was a great movie that bridged the decades of classic westerns with modern characters and audiences. It had a budget of $90,000,000 and made $34,703,397 the opening weekend in box office sales.

This is a movie to see on a date or with the family, although it is rated PG-13 for violence and some language. Perhaps the best western since “True Grit,” “The Magnificent Seven” is a must see for anyone who likes old style movies like “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” or any number of classic westerns with John Wayne.

Overall, I give “The Magnificent Seven” three out of four John Wallace heads. Through the strong characters played by Washington and Pratt, it is a great modern western, but not quite magnificent. For that, it would need a stronger plot and to be more like the original film. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys westerns or classical films.