4YE’s Big Movie Binge: The Magnificent Seven (2016)

Credit: MGM

Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke and four other ecclectic actors joined together in 2016 for what was Washington’s first ever Western The Magnificent Seven. A remake of a remake, The Magnificent Seven wasn’t all that well recieved. Some critics praised director Antoine Fuqua’s directing style. Still others thought that Fuqua’s film needed more substance and needed to be more memorable. Usually, I’m not one to agree with critics but this time, I’m inclined to agree with them. I’m not particularly well versed in the Western, but I do think that something was missing in the film. What that was, I couldn’t tell you. The Magnificent Seven is decent enough to warrant multiple viewings, if only for the chemistry between the eight main actors.

Washington, Pratt, and Hawke play Sam Chisolm, Joshua Faraday, and Goodnight Robicheaux respectively. Chisolm is a bounty hunter and a registered peace keeper. Faraday is a gambler, a card player, with a penchant for explosives and wisecracks. Robicheaux is a former Confederate sharpshooter who fought with Chisolm in the war. Together they recruit Jack Horne (Vincent D’Onofrio), Billy Hobbs (Byung-Hun Lee), Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier) and Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) to help recently widowed Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) take back her hometown from the greedy industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). Chisolm takes the job because of a personal connection to Bogue. Chisolm and his band of men have one week to turn a bunch of farmers into fighters but nothing can prepare any of them for the fight they have ahead of them.

Character development is null and void in basically any action/adventure film unless the film is part of a multiple movie franchise. Even then, sometimes development isn’t all that up to snuff. In The Magnificent Seven, it’s the same thing. All seven of the characters remain pretty static through the film, save for maybe Hawke’s character Goodnight. He goes from being scared to shoot off a rifle to coming in guns blazing on Bogue’s Blackstone soldiers. Other than that, unfortunately character development is nonexistent which is fine sometimes. In the case of this film, I wanted more. Particularly, I wanted more about Faraday and Horne.

Chisolm might have been the main character, but Pratt’s Faraday and D’Onofrio’s Horne stole the show. I’ve been lamenting the fact that we have yet to see Pratt in a dramatic role that works for him. While Faraday is a wisecracker and charming, there are many tiny moments when Pratt is able to chew on something a little more dramatic and substantialIn the end, he’s still playing a loveable if dimwitted cowboy with an explosives fetish.

D’Onofrio, on the flip side, is someone I seem to always equate with dramatic roles. In this case, many of the comedic relief moments come from his character and his reactions to things. Horne is just a big loveable teddy bear who happens to be very lethal with a hatchet and a revolver. Horne is hilarious and the audience does get a glimpse of his past but, that’s all it is, just a glimpse. As an audience member, I felt anoyed about the lack of development and background for these characters because there was so much potential.

One thing’s for certain though, The Magnificent Seven did a very good job at finding actors who had fantastic chemistry. None of the men felt out of place and they played against each other marvelously. Perhaps the best examples of this are Lee and Hawke and Garcia-Rulfo and Pratt. Each one plays against the other so well it’s almost enough to want them to play in a film together again, and really, the chemistry between all the actors and Bennett is something that elevates the film beyond the poorly written script.

Westerns still aren’t my thing, I can say that with certainty but The Magificent Seven, despite being weaker than typical films I’m used to, might be an exception, if only for the chemistry in the cast and Chris Pratt’s Joshua Faraday.

Shelby Arnold
Hop On In

Shelby Arnold

Shelby is currently reviewer extraordinaire for 4YE. She is also currently the co-editor of Arkansas Tech University's paper The Arka Tech. She runs her own movie review blog called Shellin' Out Reviews where she crossposts many of her reviews. She previously was a staff writer at PopWrapped.

Shelby started writing at the age of 13 and has been hooked ever since. She's currently going to school at ATU for Creative Writing and English with a minor in Film Studies. She hopes to one day be a professor of film, a film critic, and a screenwriter. (Can you tell she likes the movies?)

She hopes to walk the red carpet one day. She contributes a long list of friends, co-workers, professors, and writers as the inspiration for her dreams and goals.

You can find Shelby on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
Shelby Arnold
Hop On In