Directed by Antoine Fuqua
If we take a look at Antoine Fuqua’s directorial career, it’s obvious to conclude that action-packed blockbusters are the dishes he loves to cook and serve. A few examples are: “Training Day”, “The Equalizer”, “Southpaw” and “Olympus Has Fallen”, all of them seeking for that urgent action, sometimes meritorious sometimes wearisome.
His latest creation and first Western is a free adaptation of John Sturges’ 1960 classic “The Magnificent Seven”, which in turn had been adapted from Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese masterpiece “The Seven Samurai”.
The filmmaker, relying on the screenwriters Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk, decided to preserve some important elements and scenes from the prior version at the same time that he attempts to build up something appealingly new.
Denzel Washington, Fuqua’s frequent star and collaborator, is Sam Chisolm, a warrant officer from Wichita, Kansas, who agrees to gather a group of men to hunt the unscrupulous industrialist Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard). The latter, moved by a limitless greed, turned Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett) into a widow when he besieged the little mining town of Rose Creek. Without wasting time, Emma and her friend Tommy Q. (Luke Grimes), set out to ask for help in the nearest town.
The tenacious Chisolm starts his recruitment process after he realizes that it’s Bogue who’s behind the evildoing.
The ones chosen to reinstate the order and make justice are the following: Josh Faraday (Chris Pratt), an inveterate gambler; Goodnight Robicheaux (Ethan Hawke), a precise gunman; Billy Rocks (Byung-hun Lee), a knife-addicted assassin; Jack Horne (Vincent D'Onofrio), a veteran master tracker; Red Harvest (Martin Sensmeier), an alert Comanche; and Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a Mexican outlaw.
Fuqua’s modern version of the Sevens, besides lacking humor and a focal point, is too long and stereotyped, requiring patience from those viewers who care for something more than just wild action in its forms of shootouts, explosions, machine-gun sweeps, head-to-head duels, and Indian meticulous strikes. In this particular case, my advice is to stick to the classics because not even the great cast saved the film from mediocrity.