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Tue Sep 27 10:41:46 SAST 2016

Movie review: The Multicultural Seven

Tymon Smith | 23 September, 2016 08:21
AT SIXES AND SEVENS: 'The Magnificent Seven', starring Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D'Onofrio, Lee Byung-hun, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Martin Sensmeier, Haley Bennett and Peter Sarsgaard, offers little in the way of characters to root for
Image by: COLOMBIA PICTURES

Fifty-six years after John Sturges' Hollywood remake of Akira Kurosawa's landmark Seven Samurai , Antoine Fuqua reteams with Denzel Washington for his own take on the story of seven guns for hire riding to the rescue of a town besieged by a greedy bad man.

While Fuqua's seven are more multicultural than the 1960 Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, and Charles Bronson team, and his version is more violent and slightly longer, there's very little in this film to explain its existence. Fuqua and his screenwriters squander the opportunity to use their multicultural cast to explore the realities of life on the frontier for those who weren't white.

You might see in the choice of Peter Sarsgaard as evil mining magnate Bartholomew Bogue shades of Donald Trump, although Bogue has less personality than Trump and is a poor shadow of Eli Wallach's 1960 villain, Calvera.

But politics, morality and reflections on the current or past state of race relations in the US are far from the heart of what is a fairly entertaining remake of a remake that doesn't offer much more than a solid, engaging Western debut for Washington in the role of group leader Chisolm.

With wisecracking Chris Pratt, pseudo-philosopher Ethan Hawke, mumbling but wise fool Vincent D'Onofrio, Mexican chancer Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, knife- throwing Korean Byung-hun Lee and Native American Martin Sensmeier making up the rest of the crew hired by sharp-shooting widow Haley Bennett, the stage is set for several bloody and noisy confrontations in the good ol' town of Rose Creek.

Fuqua throws in some references to better Westerns like Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, and cribs the best lines from Sturges' film, but there's little in the way of characters to root for in a story that's been told a thousand times before.

As he did with his remake of the television series The Equalizer, the director demonstrates he has plenty of technical ability but that isn't enough to make the film more than a predictable genre exercise that takes too long to deliver too little.

Even if you want to see shades of a parable about the end of the Obama era and the rise of Trump, it's not solidly enough entrenched in the storytelling to warrant much more than a passing thought.

It's not the worst film of the year or even the worst remake but it does leave you feeling that the whole exercise is a little pointless and too easily forgotten once the dust has settled.

WHAT OTHERS SAY

  • The remake of the 1960 classic Western moseys along at the pace of a long-in-the-tooth horse. - Mara Reinstein, Us Weekly
  • Almost wholly inessential. - Mike McCahill, MovieMail
  • Delivers action-packed fun throughout, culminating in a brilliantly staged showdown that will leave you feeling thrilled. - Amy West, International Business Times

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