A dynamite-fuelled blast from the past that could go either way, in the face of countless clichés and stereotypes…
Set inevitably in the Wild West, a robber baron and businessman, Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard), begins an evil plot to take over a gold rich valley complete with helpless villagers. Luckily for recently widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), the next town along holds the key to their survival. Cue the smooth talking Chisolm (Denzel Washington) and sassy Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), as they begin their journey the become the Magnificent Seven.
Among the oddball collection appears Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), who you might recognise as Wilson Fisk from the TV series Daredevil. Complete with impeccable comic timing, moments of extreme pathos and wisdom, this character gives one of the standout performances of the movie. It is a testament to the writing and the casting however to find that all the characters are far from just faces behind a gun. Each has their own motivation and personality and they play off each other in an interesting way, for example the discovery of a shared language between two characters opens up a new world of exciting conversation. Even small throw-away moments hold meaning and show a great awareness of the time period and potential clichés. Right to the end there is an unhurried intensity to the scripting that grips you without using gunshots for punctuation.
Musically the soundtrack is strong. My only concern is that the composers could not quite top the original theme. This modern recreation of a western classic is easily my favourite so far, however. While recognisable from its influences and genre, it has the scope to explore new ground; the empowered and strong female characters, the political relationships of North and South after the war, the tensions between people of all cultures. The film’s ability to respond in a more realistic way to the events that must happen in a film of it’s genre is applause worthy. In light of these things, judging it as both a full blown action film and a western, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to watch a good genre film.
Author: Joe, Bath