FIRST LOOK: "Magnificent Seven" Saddles Up Excitement as an Ole West Mercenary Squad

Updated 1 year ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
 FIRST LOOK:  "Magnificent Seven" Saddles Up Excitement as an Ole West Mercenary Squad

Would it be cinematic sacrilege to describe the 'western' as a superhero film of a different time? Westerns had their heyday in the 30s-early 60s.  A typical scenario has a fast straight shooter (i.e. John Wayne, Roy Rogers, James Arness, Henry Fonda )  never missing and sending an army of thugs to boot hill. Prior to the introduction of realistic gore, the bullets flew but no one bled to death.



Magnificent Seven (1969) starred Yul Brenner, assembling a team of outlaws (George Kennedy. Lee Van Clef. Michael Biehn. Steve McQueen. Charles Bronson. Robert Vaughn took on Eli Wallach.  stealing land from peasant Mexican farmers. the all white and all male crew always struck a vital bullseye just as a Superman, Iron Man, or Spiderman overcomes super criminals and invaders from outer space.  Or on a separate level, think of renegades Billy Jack, Rambo, or Charles (“Death Wish”) Bronson wasting hordes of bad dudes.

Coming about six weeks after D.C.'s "Suicide Squad," where an evil woman puts together a criminal team of powerful mutants on the opposite side of the law, the 21st Century reboot of "Magnificent 7" sticks with a PG-13 rating and emphasizes diversity as Denzel Washington slips into the Brenner role.

Recruited by Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett upcoming “Girl on the Train” and previously “Music in Lyrics”), the widow’s desperation and sincerity strike a chord (spoiler). Bennett’s Annie Oakley traits earns her gender equality as Washington tells her "you must wear pants if you're going to fight."  She sticks with her long skirt proudly proclaiming "I was the only one with or without balls who stood up") joining the crack rifle squad.

 FIRST LOOK:  "Magnificent Seven" Saddles Up Excitement as an Ole West Mercenary Squad

The village faces bully land grabber, megalomaniac Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) stealing not so hidden gold and defending his conduct with a God approves of progressive capitalism mantra (which does bring a few mental images of a current reality show Presidential candidate’s bombastic attitude).

Sam Chisholm (Denzel Washington) casts a wide cultural net by recruiting Josh Faraday (Chris Platt), a hard-drinking Irish gambler; Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a twitchy Confederate sharp-shooter; Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a Korean knife-tosser; Vasquez (Manuel Garcia Rulfo), a Mexican bandit; Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), a cantankerous tracker; and Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), a renegade Comanche warrior.

Reverting back to the 1960 scenario, the team bonds and convinces the remaining residents to fight for their land. Call it boot camp or farmers --- the rogues assist them in practicing shooting and killing skills to increase the forces standing up against the western equivalent of a wealthy tyrant taking from the poor. 

Washington's motivation has altered from the original. It's more akin to "Monte Walsh" or "The Shootist", as this version has redemption and revenge

A suspenseful script invokes a  High Noon countdown to shoot out at the church steeple.

Dressed in black and wearing an astute black hat, Washington, a court authorized bounty hunter, commands the elite killers.  After well placed levity (" Statistically speaking, they should have hit something," the strategic shootout proceeds itself enveloping three dramatic arcs.

What's sorely missed?  Elmer Bernstein's famous score does make it in the flick, but it's not integrated. The pulse pounding music has built in tension boasts, which could have roused a few of the set up sequences.

 

UPCOMING

DEEP HORIZON: The world's worst oil pollution debacle lures elements of Hollywood disaster genre,  which often contain a morsel of don't let this happen again.

 

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN: Tim ("Beatlejuice," "Batman Returns," "Corpse Bride") Burton adapts a novel  about children with special powers. Could we call it a young version of Dr. Xavier's school for mutants?

 

GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Rachel (Emily Blunt) , who just divorced, fantasizes about a couple living on the route of a train she rides daily. Her fantasy life collides with reality when one half of the perfect couple , Megan (Haley Bennett) disappears.

 FIRST LOOK:  "Magnificent Seven" Saddles Up Excitement as an Ole West Mercenary Squad

 

MIDDLE SCHOOL: Tired of conforming to all the "rules," students decide to exercise their creativity and break them all .

THE ACCOUNTANT: Ben Affleck plays a forensic number cruncher who uncooks books.

OUIJA ORIGIN OF EVIL joins a year of chilling horror spectacles on October  21 when a seance opens the doors to a merciless spirit. Flashback Oct 23 & 26 and Oct. 30 & Nov.1 to "Psycho" a "Halloween" (John Carpenter/Jamie Lee Curtis version) on the giant screen.

DR STRANGE: Marvel's hero of the inter-dimensional and supernatural  comes to the screen with Benedict ("Imitation Game," "Black Mass," "Star Trek Into Darkness")  Cumberbatch in the title role.

 

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