The Magnificent Seven

In Films by Andrew Psyllides

This lifeless remake of the classic 1960 western plays dangerously fast and loose with the meaning of the word ‘magnificent’. Forgettable is more like it. It’s a nothing film, director Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw) fumbling the ball so badly that you’re likely to slip into a stupor and stay there until Elmer Bernstein‘s iconic score kicks in over the credits. Should that fate befall you fret not, actually watching what’s up on screen is akin to staring into an empty void. Indifference is the only possible response.

Given the star power involved this counts as something of an achievement. Top billing goes to Denzel Washington, here playing a bounty hunter heading up a ragtag bunch that includes Chris Pratt‘s wisecracking card shark and Ethan Hawke‘s PTSD-stricken sharpshooter. Unfortunately there’s not a shred of chemistry between them, their natural charisma stripped to the bone by painful back-and-forth dialogue and tired, telegraphed one-liners. Vincent D’Onofrio fares better as a Hodor-esque wild man, but that’s only because you can’t make out what he’s saying.

Fuqua’s rushed, by-the-numbers approach is the final nail in the coffin. Fleshing out characters so you care about their fate apparently wasn’t on his to-do list, the seven largely reduced to their one-note gimmicks and the terrified townsfolk they’re to save remaining nothing but faceless victims. The final stand-off serves up some solid action, but with the level of emotional investment at zero it overstays its welcome. When Peter Sarsgaard‘s two-bit villain speeds things up by breaking out a Gatling gun it comes as a relief.