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THE OLD WEST — As we start heading into the last part of 2016, there are more and more movies I’m looking forward to seeing. I won’t get into what films I can’t wait to see — that’s for another article — but one that I have been very curious about is “The Magnificent Seven.”
My father has always been a bit of a “Western” aficionado. As a kid growing up, I saw just about every Western under the sun. Everything from “Blazing Saddles” to “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” and everything in between. One of the favorites in the Clyde home was the 1960 version of “The Magnificent Seven.”
No one was cooler than Steve McQueen and no one was deadlier than Yul Brynner. It was because of this upbringing and fondness towards “The Magnificent Seven” that had me both curious and wary of this new 2016 version.
Walking in, I thought the film could only fall into one of two camps: Either a lot of fun and entertaining or a total failure. I was right— it fell into one of these camps and I’m happy to say it was the former.
In fact, “The Magnificent Seven” may be the best time I’ve had at the theater in 2016 and here’s why:
It’s just fun
I don’t know how else to say this other than I had a good time. For the two-plus hours, I was entertained and eager to watch the action unfold. And when it comes to action, there’s more than enough here.
The movie has its faults and plays the slow-burn aspect of storylines a little too slow, but overall it’s just a fun outing to the theater. The movie keeps your fists clinched and heart pumping, which is exactly what you want from an action film. The direction for veteran director Antoine Fuqua is on point and keeps the audience engaged while keeping the intensity high.
If you’re not an action fan, then steer clear because this movie is all about adrenaline.
The whole cast for the most part is really solid, but as you’d assume there are some real standouts. It’s hard to get much better than Denzel Washington and he turns in another solid performance here as the rag-tag band’s leader.
Another performance worth mentioning shouldn’t be a surprise, but I’ll mention it anyway— Ethan Hawke. Hawke has been on the scene for years now and his experience shows. Hawke’s character is possibly one of the most complex and interesting and he carries it well. It’s also nice to see Washington and Hawke back together again for the first time since “Training Day,” another Fuqua film.
Peter Sarsgaard was born to play a creeper and he nails it to perfection yet again. You hate him from the moment he bursts onto the scene at the beginning of the film and that distain only gets worse as the move continues. Sarsgaard is a great baddie and brings a level of insanity and terror that will resonate with audiences.
My biggest question mark from the cast was Chris Pratt. Personally I’m a big fan of Pratt’s and love “Parks and Recreation” as well as “Guardians of the Galaxy.” I wasn’t sure, however, how his goofy and lovable personality was going to play in a western. I want people to experience it for themselves, but all of my worries were put to rest and Pratt is one of the best parts of the film.
It’s different enough
As I mentioned earlier, I am a fan of the 1960 “The Magnificent Seven.” I was curious how the writers and director were going to change things up while staying true to the story’s origins, which actually comes from the 1954 Japanese film “Seven Samurai.”
In an effort to avoid any spoilers, suffice it to say, that enough was changed to give the film a fresh feel with new characters and plot devices while preserving the influence of its predecessors.
Be warned of the violence
Fellow KSL.com writer David Clyde will give you the parent's review for the film on Friday and you’ll want to check it out, because “The Magnificent Seven” is magnificently violent. Truth be told, I was a bit caught off guard by the violence.
Be warned of that now and be sure to catch Clyde’s article Friday.
Overall, “The Magnificent Seven” has clear issues from time to time and will not be winning any Academy Awards, but who cares when you’re having this much fun? If you’re a fan of action-packed Westerns filled with nefarious characters, classic anti-heroes and gunfire a plenty, then be sure to see “The Magnificent Seven.”
The film is rated PG-13 for extended and intense sequences of Western violence, for historical smoking, some language and suggestive material.