Director Antoine Fuqua brings his modern vision to a classic story in The Magnificent Seven. With the town of Rose Creek under the deadly control of industrialist Bartholomew Bogue, the desperate townspeople employ protection from seven outlaws, bounty hunters, gamblers and hired guns. As they prepare the town for the violent showdown that they know is coming, these seven mercenaries find themselves fighting for more than money.
I gotta say this right in the beginning: Antoine Fuqua has no talent for storytelling whatsoever. Whatever he touches turns to shit. After he ruined the Alamo, a story as traumatizing for Americans as Stalingrad is for Germans, he should have been kicked out and banned forever from Hollywood. And don’t get me wrong here, Alamo was no cheapo flick in any way. A great cast and lots of money went to it … just to get all greatness sucked out of it by Fuqua. Inacceptable! And apart from Training Day all his movies were shitshows.
So when I say all his movies were crap, does that include Mag7 too? Oh yes! It’s not like there haven’t two great movies been made about this old story already.
All Fuqua needed to do was looking at the masterpieces of Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai, 1954) and John Sturges (Magnificent Seven, 1960) and learn a thing or two. But no, modern men can look down at the masters of old, because what did they know about the business?
I won’t even push the blame on a weak screenplay because … well, there was none. According to the allknowing filmspool IMDb credited for the screenplay were Akira Kurosawa and associates. WTF?
Neither am I blaming the rather robotic cast for this trainwreck of a movie. I know at least Ethan Hawke and Denzel Washington have a greater bandwith than they are showing here. I can’t really blame them for their listless acting, if you had to act for Fuqua you’d feel the same. Tired, mopish, slack. Weirdly enough it’s funnyman Chris Pratt giving us the best performance in this flick.
And then there is Vincent D’Onofrio, a interesting actor who goes to great length to surprise us time and again. In Mag7 he’s just a fat bible reciting halfwit who bumbles his way thru the catastrophe. If his role was supposed to be the comic relief it backfired badly. Not unlike everything else that went to shit in this movie.
Peter Sarsgaard as the super villain capitalist Bartholomew Bogue stayed pale as well. Heck, this was a truly witty concept for once, putting the established rich man in the evil shoes as an analogy to modern America … but, oh boy, did they fuck it up. The little gangsters in 1954 and 1960 movies had a much bigger impact than Bogue, a man with a couple hundred gunslingers at his proposal, had in 2016.
Now the great Denzel Washington. If you can see in the eyes of the leading man how little he wants to be in the movie, if his whole body language is a cry for help, what do you expect the rest of the cast to act like?
There was no power, no force, no urgency in Denzel’s acting. He just wasn’t convincing as a leader, one you’d follow into a hopeless battle. This needs special men, guys with charisma. And we know Denzel is capable to express all that thru his acting. But inMag7 he didn’t. By now I’ve stopped wondering why.
Haley Bennett as leading female was quite good I have to admit. At least she put some effort into her acting and was a “believable” mediator between our seven idiots and the bumbling townsfolk of Rose Creek.
Talking about the town and its inhabitants. Remember how some of them became minor characters in the old movies as well during the training? It was all those little details that made the old movies so lovely. Nothing of that in 2016.
The whole sequence of a weeklong training, which used huge parts in both of the classics, was kinda cut short in the – 133 minutes long – modern version. Shame. When we learn nothing about the town and its people how are we supposed to fight for it with all our heart? Mag7 2016 just cut it short, just like anything else.
Just as in the originals assembling our group of 7 heroes takes quite a while as well. But oh, noes. Once they have congregated we know next to nothing about this ragtag group of strangers. Including Washington, Hawke and Pratt I couldn’t care less when they were shot up and dieded.
So, coming to the final battle now, the part we were all waiting for with baited breath … no, not really. We just had the desire for the battle to start to escape the increasing boredom. But oh my, this dragged on as well. Turned even out the great battle for Rose Creek was in fact the most boring part of an already boring movie.
Remember that in the classics our seven heroes not only trained the townsfolk in gun handling but also built some traps for the invading gang? Apart from some dynamite the 2016 movie won’t have any of that.
What we see is just men, lotsa men, firing at each other. Some are on horseback, some are not, shooting do they all. This fight is on such a low level of strategy and choreography, watching a group of little boys with plastic guns fighting it out in a sandbox is more exciting than observing Mag7 2016.
Let me come back to my initial criticism of Fuqua: In lack of any actual screenplay writers to shout at I put the blame for Mag7’s failure square on his shoulders. He and the anonymous screenwriters. Is it really so difficult to figure out how and why Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven of old were so joyful to watch … and trying to build upon their strong attributes?
Is it s hard to figure out why they worked so great? How the 4 act system worked so brilliantly back then? What made up the chemistry between the characters and what was the friction point in between townsfolk and gangsters/heroes?
No, it ain’t. These were quite old movies and not made for a very discerning/clever/educated audience. The stories in itself were quite basic, the 4 act construction of the play was interesting but nothing overly complicated. If anything, it helped us audience to follow the plot more easily.
There were no time jumps and flashbacks involved in the drama, it was as linear and straight as possible. But the 4 acts were very well separated and told in the classic movies, with each of them giving our characters and the plot enough room to develop. Fuqua’s version felt quite rushed … for no apparent reason.
CONCLUSION: I already had a bad feeling about this redo. I have no idea if Antoine Fuqua gives that good head for the H-wood bosses or for whatever fuckered reason they still let him getting close to a camera and a sizeable budget. Actually there was nothing to like about The Magnificent Seven 2016.
WATCH IT: ABSOLUTELY NOT! Not with truly enjoyable movies like Seven Samurai and Magnificent Seven (1960) at your disposal. Even Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins was much more enjoyable than the lifeless, paint-by-numbers Mag7-2016. It’s not like totally the same story but comes pretty close in principle. Only that we have 13 heroes in this one. Heck, that’s a great movie. Go watch it NAO!!!
WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY:
“Fairly forgettable … not all it could’ve been … Moderate Seven”. Mark is more forgiving than Orca. Okay …
Jeremy ain’t a movie critic but a fukn fanboy if you ask me.
Chris loves Antoine Fuqua. Told ya, that guy must give good head. 😉
“brings nothing new to the table … not innovative or new in any way. Just shy of magnificent.” Whoa, who’d thought girls can review movies?