The Magnificent Seven, review: ‘Denzel Washington commands the screen in big cowboy flick’

Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Prat

Vincent D'Onofrio, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Ethan Hawke, Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt and Byung-hun Lee star. Picture: Columbia Pictures - Credit: Archant

The latest cowboy flick stays true to the spirit of the original, with most of the new Seven matching up

The remake of The Magnificent Seven is a western made in the new old fashioned way. Although the genre was pronounced dead at least three decades ago, they keep popping up from time to time, but not like this.

Fuqua’s take is not revisionist or deconstructionist or elegiac or horror hybrid or contemporary spaghetti or Tarantinoesque, it is a cowboy film as cowboy films used to be: a big mainstream entertainment.

The story of seven outlaws gathering together to rescue a town of poor decent people from evil exploiters is a tried and trusted one that seems to work in any context be it samurai or space pilots.

So the film has sense enough to stick to the basic plot, but does it the way that plot would be done today.

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The action is more intense and violent (some editing looks to have been needed to keep this a 12A) and the dialogue is not strictly period. But it is true to the spirit of the original in that it is a star vehicle and the stars are its main pleasures.

Of course, old timers will tell you that them there modern movie stars aren’t a patch on the proper stars of classic era Hollywood.

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I’m not sure I agree; Denzel Washington moves across the screen with as much assurance as anyone in the history of the flicks and though there is still a nagging feeling that Chris Pratt has been promoted beyond his abilities, he’s fine here.

The original was a launch pad for Steve McQueen, but I don’t think anyone’s going to break out here. Korean Lee Byung-hun is effective as one of the seven, but even in a genre where being taciturn is a virtue, his limited command of English is a hindrance.

The score keeps teasing you that it might burst into Elmer Bernstein’s rousing original version, but frustratingly keeps holding off.

Maybe they thought the film wasn’t quite worthy of it. But though this new seven may not be magnificent, they walk taller than many of the summer’s blockbuster offerings.

For reviews of the blu-ray releases of Kubrick’s Paths of Glory and Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake in 40s noir The Blue Dahlia visit

Rating: 3/5 stars

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