Bullets And One-Liners Fly In The ‘Kickass’ Magnificent Seven Remake
There should be a rule about remakes: if you’re going to do a movie that already exists, it needs to be at least 30 years old. No generation should have to be subjected to three Spider-Man franchises or a double dose of The Karate Kid.
With his new version of The Magnificent Seven, director Antoine Fuqua (Training Day, Olympus Has Fallen) adheres to that (completely arbitrary) guideline. The John Sturges original is over 50 years old and nearly all the cast members are dead. No Steve McQueen should have to see himself played by Chris Pratt.
Not that Pratt does a bad job in the update. He’s his usual affable self in the revamped McQueen role, cracking jokes and performing card tricks while shooting bad guys and downing copious amounts of whiskey or moonshine or any fermented thing he can get his hands on.
However, the standouts in the cast aren’t the big names (Pratt, plus Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio, Peter Sarsgaard, and Denzel Washington in Yul Brynner’s old spot), instead it’s Byung-hun Lee as the knife-throwing Billy Rocks and Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest who steal every scene they’re in.
Fuqua and True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto have tweaked the characters for this update, giving them new names and altered personalities, but the storyline keeps fairly close to the original: bad guy Bartholomew Bogue (Sarsgaard) rolls into a dusty little mining town with his henchmen demanding that its denizens hand over their land for an insultingly low sum… or else. To make sure the townspeople understand that the consequences for uncooperativeness will be dire, Bogue torches their church and shoots a couple of them as a sort of warm up for what’s to come. This goes over poorly with one local woman (Jennifer Lawrence clone Haley Bennett), who sets off to hire some cowboy mercenaries to protect the town against Bogue’s promised return.
What follows is the ultimate standoff/suicide mission with the Seven leading anyone brave enough to stick around against the well-armed and well-manned onslaught. Many rounds are exchanged. Many sticks of dynamite are lit. Many knives are thrown expertly by Lee. Also, many bodies pile up. You can probably guess which side comes out on top in the end (especially if you’ve seen the original), but it’s the modern western trip Fuqua takes his characters and audience on that’s the whole point—and it’s a fun one. The movie isn’t going to win anyone any awards season hardware, but who cares? Like Pratt told The Guardian, “At the end of the day it’s two hours of kickass entertainment.”
The Magnificent Seven premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, and is now playing in theatres across Canada. Check out the trailer below, partner.