I just finished the 2016 remake of the film the Magnificent Seven and I have to say that I was actually quite impressed by the effort of the actors and the filmmakers. I really enjoyed the movie and thought that it seemed to be a credible remake of an old classic for a new audience. After seeing it, I was a bit dismayed by the lack of critical and commercial success for it.
Now, for full disclosure: I haven’t seen all of the original version. I’ve only seen bits and pieces. Somehow, it never seemed to come on network TV (as I recall) and when it was on cable, there always seemed to be something more interesting on that I wanted to watch. Also, if I recall, the original is a black and white film, and it is MUCH harder for me (personally) to “suspend my disbelief” with black and white films as I’m always doing the “Wizard of Oz” game where my mind tries to fill in what would the movie look like in color (as the original Wizard of Oz starts out in black and white, goes to color, and then moves back to black and white for its ending).
However, this movie seemed to be very much in the spirit of the older classic. It told a great story with some pretty good performances by the various actors. The story, in many respects, had a tone much like the latest (as of this writing) Star Wars movie, Rogue One. I really liked most everything about it. Sure, there were a few cliche western moments, but it really doesn’t deserve its 54% Metacritic score. Now, don’t get me wrong–even without the western “cliches,” there are still problems. One the main ones is the main character’s motivation for helping. The movie made him seem way too altruistic even though he is getting paid for his services. While the movie foreshadows the reason behind this a before the midpoint of the movie, we don’t actually get the revelation until the final conflict with villain. Because we don’t get to see Chissom (Denzel Washington’s character) struggle, 1) he comes off as emotionally distant–we never see why the plight of the town really matters to him and 2) we don’t see him struggle–he has it all too easy. He doesn’t really have to struggle with the town accepting him, he doesn’t deal with any major conflicts between his team (outside one conflict with another old time associate).
However, even with these issues, I still enjoyed it. I had only intended to watch about half of it this week (about an hour) and then finish off the other hour next weekend, but I found myself so engaged by it that every time I went to turn it off, I stayed my hand, so the actors, director, and filmmakers did something right, even if the critics and the majority of the audience doesn’t agree.
Overall Grade: B+ (It probably would have been a B- due to the way the protagonist’s motivation was written, but a couple of strong performances more than made up for that flaw in my mind).