Posse riot in The Magnificent Seven

  • Film
Posse riot in The Magnificent Seven


Thu, 22/09/2016 - 14:11


Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven
Denzel Washington in The Magnificent Seven
22 September, 2016

Certificate 12a

THIS remake of the classic 1960 Western was not wholly necessary, as the original hasn’t dated.

But here it is – and director Fuque makes a good fist of creating a decent homage to a film that included in its credits Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson and James Coburn (and was itself inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai).

Here we have Denzel Washington in excellent form as Sam Chisholm (Brynner’s role), the state-hopping law man chasing down baddies and dispatching them with his six-shooter. He is approached by beautiful widow Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett), who tells him her town is being overrun by gold-crazed baddie Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) and she needs his help.

Her husband has been killed and the town’s church burnt out. And they have been told by Bogue they have three weeks to sell him their land for a knockdown price or he’ll take it violently. He sets off to put together a formidable team of gunslingers, knife-throwers and arrow-shooters: it is a posse no one wants to mess with. They head to the valley in question and lay plans to see off the robber barons.

It is simplistic but the fun isn’t in the plotting. The characters are heroes to a man, the landscapes beautiful, and some of the script endearingly funny. 

There are some minor let downs: if you are hoping for a film score that references either the fantastic orchestral music of the likes of Dimitri Tiomkin or John Williams or the harmonica-blowing, guitar-picking, Jew’s Harp-twanging brilliance of the Spaghetti Western genre you will be sorely disappointed. It feels like a missed opportunity – with so much else right, to have undermined the atmosphere in this way is a great shame.

Many cultural commentators have written at length about what the continuing popularity of the genre represents. Watching this remake, you can’t help but sense the Western still offers the chance for the individual to day dream about being independent: in this modern world, where we rely on others for our food, warmth, shelter, there is something  particularly romantic about the wide spaces, the lack of mod-cons, and being left to yourself under an endless, starry sky.

This version of the Mag-7 throws together characters that all represent this back-to-nature, escapist wish.

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